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ALCUIN SECONDS 3 JAMES THIRDS 0
The College Cup dreams of James thirds died in controversial circumstances on the Astroturf this afternoon. Alcuin seconds inflicted a third consecutive 3-0 defeat, but benefited from some poor refereeing decisions for their second and third goals as the game was stolen away from their dogged opponents.
The post-match chatter was sprinkled with words along the lines of ‘farce,’ ‘travesty’ and others which can’t be published here after Will Taylor, the Alcuin left-sided player, clearly handballed in the build-up to their second goal, the ball bundled in by Thomas Gibby at the back post. To compound their misery, the third goal – the last kick of the game – was also contentious. Paul Desoisa, Alcuin’s Man of the Match, hammered the ball into the top right-hand corner but goalkeeper Toby Owen had clearly been fouled in the process of retrieving the ball after a penalty area scramble.
Until these two tournament-defining moments which, sadly, have brought the standard of College Cup officiating into sharp focus once more, James had contained their opponents and even crafted a few opportunities of their own – notably when David Ambrozejczyk tipped Jack Fisher’s shot-on-the-spin over the crossbar. Their resolve had not been broken even when Matthew Lang finished neatly at the near post shortly after half-time for Alcuin’s opening goal.
The first period was even and goalless; the initial pressure came from Alcuin, who were hoping for the perfect riposte following their opening day loss to Goodricke firsts, as Taylor latched on to Desoisa’s sliderule pass and outpaced George Clarke only to blaze into the side-netting. At the other end, on their first break forward, Ambrozejczyk got his positioning spot on to deny Arran Bowen-la Grange’s header at the back post, after Andy Yates had produced a perfect floated free-kick.
Alcuin’s Paul Desoisa scored the third goal in the last minute, sealing his team’s first win in the competition. Photograph by Maggie Aslet.
Alcuin ended the half the stronger, though a breakthrough wasn’t forthcoming. Damian Pickard, the captain, forced a block from Owen with a 35-yard free-kick and Brown was unable to turn in the rebound from close range. Huw Harrow headed the ball away off the line following another testing set-piece, Simon Reiss slashing the follow-up over the crossbar. Just before the interval, Brown was released by a calamitous Nick St. George mis-kick but, under pressure from two covering defenders, fluffed his lines and sent the ball high over Owen’s net.
Starting the second-half, James would have been hopeful of picking up their first points of the tournament, an optimism fuelled when an intelligent quickly-taken throw-in from Yates set Fisher free, only for the midfielder to connect meekly and send his effort into the goalkeeper’s hands.
They were punished severely just a couple of minutes later as Lang ghosted forward from left-back to open the scoring. Conscious that their hopes of Plate qualification were hanging by a thread, James assumed an attacking licence, introducing Adam Tzimas in place of Yates and urging the tall Nathan McCusker forward at every set-piece. Tzimas almost made an impact, but Ambrozejczyk clutched his daisy-cutter from the edge of the box.
Alcuin Will Taylor protests his innocence despite what looked like a clear handball in the build-up to his team’s second goal. Photograph by Maggie Aslet.
Devoting all their energies towards gaining a surprise equaliser, it was cruel that James were crushed by a moment of controversy. Taylor had broke free of his marker but obviously moved the ball on with his lower arm, something to which the referee, located some distance away, turned a blind eye. Taylor reached the byline before squaring across goal, leaving Gibby with a tap-in. The protestations of the James players left the official in no doubt he had made a mistake, but the goal stood and the team started to wilt in the face of a two-goal deficit.
Owen dived at the feet of Brown to prevent a third but Alcuin wouldn’t be denied and, in the dying moments, the James goalkeeper was robbed of the ball – despite appearing to have both hands on it – and Desoisa capitalised with aplomb.
James have shown terrific fighting spirit in all three of their matches but join the heap of College Cup teams for whom pluckiness is just not enough, although they can feel aggrieved here. Alcuin remain very much in with a shout of beating Wentworth firsts to second position in Group A and will continue their quest against Derwent seconds next Friday.
David Ambrozejczyk, the Alcuin goalkeeper, scrambles across to keep out Arran Bowen-la Grange’s back post header. Photograph by Maggie Aslet.
Alcuin Seconds: David Ambrozejczyk, Simon Reiss, Bradley Wood, Jonathan Lane, Matthew Lang, Will Taylor, Damian Pickard, Gavin Hesketh, Thomas Gibby, Paul Desoisa, Alex Brown
Nouse Fantasy Football Man of the Match: Paul Desoisa
James Thirds: Toby Owen, Ben Li (Ruari Phillips), Nick St. George, Nathan McCusker, George Clarke, Dave Williams, Arran Bowen-la Grange, Jack Fisher, Huw Harrow, Andy Yates (Adam Tzimas), Tim Green
Nouse Fantasy Football Man of the Match: Toby Owen