Football: Fitz do the double!

Fitzwilliam College round of the college football season in style with a 3-1 win against Cuppers finalists Jesus, reports JACK ANDERSON

Cuppers danny mcGrath Fitz football football focus Garth Crooks Jack Anderson jesus league title preye crooks scrappy team of the week troposphere

Fitzwilliam College rounded of the college football season with a league-winning triumph over Cuppers finalists Jesus.

On the windy pitch at Coldham’s Common, Fitz’s second-half performance was too much for a determined Jesus team, coming out 3-1 winners. The game was not one for the purist, with scrappy play and late challenges from both sides for much of the match. But two late goals guaranteed Fitz the league title, which they add to their cup success earlier this season.

The game began fairly evenly, the two teams familiar with one another’s strengths and weaknesses. Much like the cup final, the playing surface – grass – was an important factor throughout. Neither team were able to string many passes together, while most of the early chances came from long balls into the box or audacious long-range shots. However, Fitz took the first chance of note, as Daniel Lobon’s through ball fell to Sophus Zu-Emgassen who finished neatly across Jesus’ stand-in keeper into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.

Most early action came from long balls into the box

Jesus started to press a little higher, and they were level after a few minutes. There were echoes of Paul Gascoigne in Euro ’96 as Jesus got the goal their early play deserved. A smart throw-in from Danny McGrath found veteran Udi Gabbai who took one touch, flicking it over an oncoming defender before burying it into the corner of the net with Coburn well beaten.

The next Gabbai?

The game opened up in the last five minutes of the first half, and both teams came close to a second goal. A promising Fitz break was stopped in its tracks by an impressive effort from Alex Azizi. Jesus Captain Purcell’s volley from the edge of the area was well saved.

Goalscorer Gabbai in his more natural role for Jesus

Following the half time break both teams returned to the field having made tactical changes. A couple of substitutions for Fitz and a more attacking formation for Jesus left the opening exchanges of the second half tense. Both sides knew that a goal for Fitz would all but guarantee them the title. Gabbai was containing new Blue Simon Court well in midfield, although Fitz’s Carl Plane coped comfortably with the threat posed by Tim Kitchin in his cameo appearance at right-wing.

Much of the second half was decided by two defensive players. Harry Roocroft battled hard in the centre of the park for Jesus. As challenge after challenge flew in, perhaps due to his quiet stoicism, he was denied numerous decisions from the referee as he bowed to torrents of appeal and outrage from the Fitz midfield. For Fitz, Cupper’s man of the match Simba Mutasa again impressed, with solid tackles and defensive play throughout the game.

Man of the Match Simba Mutasa holds the Cuppers trophy aloft

However, it was Fitz who opened up a lead with fifteen left to play. Lobron again the supplier as James Rhodes beat the keeper with a shot from ten yards. Fitz knew they had won the title, and soon had more to cheer about as Court lost his man, nodding the ball in from a well placed corner from Sam Hobb’s. “Twas as if it were placed on his head as if by the Gods” an anonymous ginger is purported to have said.

With the final few minutes lacking any more divine intervention, the only moment of note was the search for a ball Preye Crooks “accidentally” cleared into a forest of nettles. The ball, which briefly entered the earth’s troposphere, had more chance of being found than the losing team had of hearing the usual ‘three cheers for…’ that usually marks the end of the game. There was no love lost between these two rivals.

Fitzwilliam were the stronger team on the day, and deserve their title-success this year with impressive wins against most teams in the division. Once again, Jesus can count themselves unlucky, their weakness all season has been a lack of goals – an important factor in a game of football –  and so it proved again. If only they could get a striker who could score.

The Victorious – and very good looking – Fitz team.