Queens’ Triumph In Cuppers Final

TabSport sees a fantastic effort from Second Division Queens’ as they win Cuppers Football for the first time in their history.

Cuppers football Fitz football queens' football

Fitz 0-1 Queens’

A Paul Cassell header 10 minutes from time was enough for Second Division Queens’ to win Cuppers football for the first time in their history.

In a match of few chances, defences dominated as both sides struggled to come to terms with the occasion.

First Division Fitz, who were billed as favourites before the game, constructed very little as they came up against an organised Queens’ side, marshaled brilliantly by their captain Dan Keeley.

Photos by Tim Sherrington

The Division Two side, who are still fighting for promotion in the league, have been the most exciting team to watch in this year’s Cuppers, notching up 22 goals in their four matches to get to the final. But, on the night itself, it was more a question of functionality over beauty or entertainment.

The first half was a scrappy affair. Todorov, up front for Fitz, looked skilful but isolated, while Queens’ saw plenty of the ball, but rarely looked like breaking their opponents down.

Ben Ryan was at the heart of a defence which never let Todorov dominate them

Hayden, leading the Queens’ line, had perhaps the best chance of the half, firing over on the stretch from inside the Fitz box, but both goalkeepers looked reasonably comfortable throughout.

Fitz set up, as they have done for the majority of this Cuppers run, with five men across the middle. But, they were unable to dominate as they would have liked.

Their lower ranked opponents made better use of the width, which was much greater than at most college football grounds. Nidhish Sugumar looked bright down the left until his withdrawal with an injury, while Ben Crittenden on the right did well to support Hayden. By the time the half-time whistle sounded, it was the men in green who went in happier.

Sugumar breaks down the left

In the second half, Queens’ began to turn their dominance in possession into more focused football. Court and Bennici in the Fitz midfield were unable to assert their dominance, and Gillingham in the goal was far busier than his Queens’ counterpart.

Throughout the match, the self-styled ‘Fitz Firm’ provided noisy support, whilst their quieter counterparts from Queens’ engaged in slightly funnier, if less vociferous, banter.

Bogle, assured at centre half for Fitz, was the target of most of their chanting, and he was the man who came closest to scoring for the Division One side, heading a set piece wide when he was just unable to get a firm header on it.

Bogle was just inches away from connecting cleanly with this opportunity

It was always going to take something special to break the deadlock, and when it came, in the 81st minute, it was Man of the Match Hayden who provided it.

A surging run into the Fitz box left a defender standing, before the striker pulled out a brilliant cross on the stretch. Cassell, on as a substitute, still had plenty to do, directing an excellent header back across goal and into the corner of the net.

Cassell gets his head to the ball…

… And celebrates the winner

Queens’ fans erupted with joy, and though Fitz, both on the pitch and in the stands, never gave up the fight, they never looked like equalising.

Queens’ looked likelier to bag a second goal, and only heroics from Gillingham, saving sharply in a one-on-one situation, kept it at 1-0.

Gillingham pulls off a stunning save to keep it at 1-0

As the final whistle went, Fitz players slumped to the floor, devastated at their loss, but few could deny that Queens’ were the better side on the day.

Champagne flowed and Keeley lifted the trophy to round off a superb night for the ‘green machine’.

You can listen to the match on CamFM here.