Goodricke advance to College Cup final after narrow shootout victory

Goodricke 1sts 1-1 Vanbrugh 1sts (Goodricke win 4-2 on penalties)

Goodricke squeezed past rivals Vanbrugh on penalties last Thursday morning to set up a date with Alcuin in the final of the College Cup competition. After two contrasting halves had produced a 1-1 scoreline in testing conditions on the Astroturf, Goodricke held their nerve to progress 4-2 in the shootout.

Treble-chasing Alcuin await following their comprehensive 3-0 victory over Halifax earlier in the week, but this second last-four encounter was always destined to be more tightly and keenly contested between two solid and experienced outfits. It quickly became apparent that the blustery conditions would prove influential for Vanbrugh, playing into the wind, with goalkeeper Paul Evans having difficulties dealing with the ball in the air.

With space at a premium, the opening was tense and often feisty, with both teams visibly determined that their College Cup campaigns would not be prematurely ended. Moments after witnessing a long-range effort parried clear, Goodricke playmaker Dominic O’Shea opened the scoring, finding sufficient room to lash home Owen Grafham’s well-placed cross, leaving Taylor no chance.

Vanbrugh struggled to settle, with their passing game going astray in a midfield confidently marshalled by Adam Leadbeater. The one-way direction of the match was best illustrated in the fact that Goodricke goalkeeper George Taylor was not called into action until the 20th minute, nudging away the ball in a goalmouth scramble.

Goodricke were incisive down the right-flank, with Adam Lewis frequently making ground, although his team failed to take further advantage in a first-half they dominated. Assuming the benefit of a fierce backwind in the second half, Vanbrugh emerged a changed team and immediately capitalised on the withdrawal of Lewis at the interval with a period of sustained pressure.

Replicating the long-ball tactics their opponents utilised to good effect in the first-half, Vanbrugh counter-attacked regularly, without necessarily troubling goalkeeper Taylor, who adapted more quickly to the conditions than his Vanbrugh namesake. Goodricke’s Remi Remington assumed free-kick duties for his team in the second-half, but the finishing touch to his deliveries was crucially lacking.

Looking the superior team, Vanbrugh claimed their reward with fourteen minutes remaining when Mark Gouland, playing as a lone striker ahead of a five-man midfield, turned in the ball from close range after an inswinging corner was only partially cleared. With scores level, Goodricke gambled and pushed Remington forward. This tactical reshuffle nearly paid off, but striker Eddie Silson fired over after O’Shea had skinned university team-mate Matt Witherwick in midfield.

Proceeding immediately to penalties, Goodricke gained an immediate advantage when Potter blazed high over the crossbar. Danny York opened Goodricke’s account with a crisp finish to the goalkeeper’s right corner, but McWilliams, who also scored from the spot in Vanbrugh’s quarter-final victory over James, equalised.

After Goodricke reclaimed the advantage, the defining moment of the match saw George Taylor reach low down to his right to grasp Oliver Reagan’s tame effort. Dominic O’Shea extended the Goodricke lead to 3-1 with an audacious chipped penalty and, although Gouland made no mistake, Colin High stepped up to seal his team’s place in the final.

They will meet Alcuin, who progressed comfortably against Halifax on Tuesday, courtesy of first-half goals from Mark McKay and Henry Smith (two). Alcuin will enter the final as favourites to complete an imperious treble, having finished top of the college leagues during the Autumn and Spring terms, but Goodricke will provide a stern examination.

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