Danny Fitz the Bill as Pem are Broken

There was no doubt that Fitz were favourites ahead of their clash with Pembroke in the first round of Cuppers, and showed why with a 5-1 victory! This was Fitz’s […]

Cuppers Fitz Pembroke

There was no doubt that Fitz were favourites ahead of their clash with Pembroke in the first round of Cuppers, and showed why with a 5-1 victory! This was Fitz’s third game of the season, scoring eight goals in their previous two matches including the 6-1 thrashing of St Johns. Pembroke on the other hand, newly promoted to the first division, had lost all three of their matches this season, albeit two of them very narrowly to Girton and Jesus.

The game started lively and saw two goals in the first ten minutes. Danny Kerrigan, a fresher who has started on several occasions this season for the Blues opened the scoring with a brilliant individual effort. Pembroke responded from the kick off, pushing forward and winning a corner from which Max Whitby slotted the equaliser. 

Pembroke continued to apply pressure, with Omar Kadhim, Max Whitby and Captain Moji Neshat looking impressive, but they couldn’t quite find a way past the solid defensive partnership of Johnson and Georgiou who made some crucial interventions, and along with keeper and Captain James Gillingham were good all game. Fitz caused Pembroke problems on the attack and the midfield battle was fierce, with another one of Fitz’s Blues players Eddie “Lethal Bizzle” Burrows making some quality passes as well as some fierce challenges. With honours even for most of the half, Fitz’s efforts were rewarded when Gamsu found Kerrigan in space from a throw-in; Kerrigan turning, beating two defenders and delivering a beautiful strike into the top left corner to make it 2-1 at the interval.

When the second half started Pembroke were by no means out of it and continued to work hard and press the Fitz team at every opportunity. However, Fitz demonstrated their sheer strength in depth when in the 55thminute they subbed on Blues player Paul Hartley. As one Pembroke midfielder commented: “For Fuck sake, where the hell has this guy come from?!” as Hartley turned him. Hartley linked up with Cambridge team-mates Ed Burrows and Max Wolke in the midfield, and together with Harry Gamsu the Fitz midfield began to dominate the game. They continued to push forward in search of a third goal, and it wasn’t long before their efforts were rewarded, albeit controversially. Vince “Italian Job” Bennici found himself in space, and after receiving the through ball dodged the keeper and slotted it across the line. However, it was cleared by a Pembroke defender, and it was touch and go as to how much of the ball had been over the line. An inevitable argument ensued and the game descended into farce for a few minutes. The linesman hadn’t made it down the line in time to see whether or not the ball had gone over, but the referee awarded Fitz the goal to the dismay of many of the Pembroke players; some of whom had been near the half-way line when the ball went in! 

Rather than sit back, Fitz pushed for more, in fear of the wrath of their Captain James Gillingham, who could be heard organising and instructing his team from London. Gamsu passed to Akram who ran a few defenders ragged before delivering a sweet cross on to Kerrigan’s head to complete his hat-trick. Kerrigan looked a different class all game, and was without question the Man of the Match.

Then in the 72nd minute with Pembroke having to go all-out attack, Fitz were able to counter, and with Kerrigan through on goal and only the keeper to beat, Pembroke’s centre-back Donal McCran made a brutal challenge from behind. Kerrigan had to go off injured and as Pembroke’s goalkeeper Andy Bell said, ‘It’s lucky they don’t give cards out in college football! If they did our guy would be on his bike!’ However, the free-kick that had been conceded was wonderfully placed by Max Wolke who drove it into the bottom corner from 30yds out to make it 5-1.

With 15 minutes to go and 5-1 down, many teams may have conceded defeat, but Pembroke showed great spirit and kept fighting back, with captain Neshat spurring his team on, even it would only be a consolation goal. Kadhim and Whitby had presence up front but were let down by the service from the midfield in the second half as the Pembroke midfield struggled to deal with Fitz’s pressure. Fitz on the other hand continued to press, with Mike Shiel scurrying around the box and nibbling at the defenders heels, coming agonisingly close with 5 minutes to go.

Fitz certainly deserved the win, outdoing Pembroke in every department and dominating the game after the first 20 minutes; they will surely be a dangerous team this season. Pembroke may have been outclassed but demonstrated potential. With their work rate and team spirit it surely won’t be long before they record their first victory this season.

After the game, Pembroke Captain Moji Neshat commented that “We played well in the first half, but crumbled in the second half… Our focus now turns to the league” where they face St. Catz next week.

Fitz Captain James Gillingham said of the match “I thought we were slow to get going but the team showed great battle to get on top. Second half we dominated for long periods which allowed us plenty of opportunities. On another day we could have scored 7 or 8. We’re all pleased to be through to the next round, the game against Jesus could be one of the matches of the season”.

Fitz’s next match is against last year’s league champions and favourites for this year’s title, Downing. When asked about the game next week Gillingham said “Downing will be our toughest test yet, and clearly they are the team to beat in the league so far this season. I’m sure they fancy their chances but I have a team full of confidence, momentum and determination to win the big games.”

Downing vs. Fitz next weekend is definitely one to watch, and could be an all-important game in the race for the title. As one Downing player put it: “This one’s a six pointer!”