Kourvelos wonder-strike secures Plate final for postgrads

WENTWORTH FIRSTS 1 – 0 VANBRUGH THIRDS
Plate Semi Final

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Images: Alex Slingsby

A Vasileios Kourvelos wonder-strike midway through the second half provided the only goal of this tightly-fought semi-final, which saw the postgrads progress to the Plate final ahead of a spirited Vanbrugh thirds team.

The losing side have given spectators some great moments during the group and knockout stages, often taking their opponents by surprise with their decisive attacking plays and rock-solid defence. Today, however, they finally came unstuck and the team will have a lot to thank goalkeeper Kallum Taylor for, as he prevented the score-line from becoming an embarrassing one.

The intensity of the game fluctuated throughout and the intensity in the opening quarter of an hour was often lacking as both sides started nervously. The first chance of the game came when Dan Bawdon worked used some clever skill to work himself free of two defenders and fire a cross low into the box; Jasper Lipton managed to get a flick on the ball, but he could only direct the ball into the arms of Taylor.

After fourteen minutes, Vanbrugh had a fortuitous chance of their own. Taylor launched the ball up field and striker Chris Mason latched a header onto the high ball; the ball then bounced dangerously towards goal and Wentworth goalkeeper Jon Cook had to be very wary as the ball bounced towards the top corner.

Vanbrugh found two more chances shortly after. McKillon-Green headed over from a corner, whilst Taylor nearly curled in a free kick from the half-way line. But in the next play, a Wentworth break produced the closest chance of the first half – Kourvelos put Harrison through down the right-hand side, but he could only direct his shot into the side netting at the near post.

Five minutes later, Vanbrugh had their best chance of the game. Taylor sent a huge goal kick into the opposition’s penalty area, forcing Selahattin Kosunalp to head clear. However, the ball fell nicely for Aaron Hooper as his tremendous volley rattled off the crossbar.

In the second half, Vanbrugh decided to get a hold of possession and force the game on the postgrads as both Al Riddel and McKinnon-Green came close. Unfazed, Wentworth reacted by stringing together several good chances.

Harrison fired an exquisite shot towards the top corner, only for it blocked by his own striker, Dom Green. Harrison cam close again in Wentworth’s next play when his free kick forced a smart save from Taylor. Dave Clinton and Bawdon also forced some athletic saves from the Vanbrugh shotstopper.

With fifteen minutes left on the clock, both players and spectators were beginning to look ahead to a penalty shoot-out. Kourvelos, however, clearly had other ideas.

After Taylor denied Kourvelos in a one-on-one situation, the left-sided midfielder decided to put things right on the second time of asking. After a lengthy spell of Wentworth pressure, the ball eventually came to Kourvelos on his favoured left foot as he fired a low, unstoppable shot at goal from 25 yards. Taylor got his fingertips on the ball, but it was only enough to divert the ball onto the inside of the post.

With the postgrads now in the driving seat, Vanbrugh looked for an immediate response, with Ben Huckle’s audacious lob from a clever bit of skill flying narrowly over the bar. Nevertheless, Wentworth continued to dominate as Harrison came close, whilst Green had an immensely accurate tap cleared off the line by Kieran Higgins.

In the final moments, Vanbrugh had a good cry for handball in the penalty area waved away by referee Joe Lawton, and shortly after McKillon-Green was deemed offside despite being in a good position. Nonetheless, Vanbrugh failed to properly test Wentworth’s goalkeeper throughout the game and the win for the postgrads was well deserved.

After the game, a relieved Wentworth captain, Dom Green, told Nouse that the win was not easy: “They made it quite difficult for us with the way they played the game. They’re effective in their play and it meant that we couldn’t play a lot of football, and that was evident throughout… We’ll be better than that in the final.”

A down-trodden Vanbrugh captain, Robert Konstandelos, explained: “I thought we were really unlucky today, I didn’t think we deserved to concede at all; I thought we played incredibly well. It’s been a good tournament for us and we’ve lost a lot of players from last year, but the lads who came in have been fantastic.”

Wentworth: Cook, Sellers, Parker, Kosunalp, Fellgett (Keane), Lipton (Dominion), Clinton, Bawdon, Harrison, Kourvelos, Green (C)

Vanbrugh: Taylor, Glanvill, Lajca, Higgins, Clear, Riddel, Konstandelos (C), Hooper, McKinnon-Green, Huckle, Mason



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