Jesus clinch cuppers final in thriller
After a dynamic, goal-laden match at Grange Road, Jesus College Football Club ran out 4-3 winners of this year’s Cuppers competition.
In the early period of the first half, chances went begging for both teams as numerous attempts from free kicks, corners, and open play went soaring harmlessly wide or over the bar. Pembroke’s chances to go a goal ahead came mainly from corners, in which on numerous occasions, players failed to connect with the ball in the box. Jesus, on the other hand, exploited the space on the wing, mainly owing to the standout performance of Preye Crooks at left-back, which was decisive in their forward play, still however failing to adequately penetrate the organised Pembroke defence.
Finally, after a period of heavy Pembroke pressure, Marcus Nielsen, the team’s top scorer with 21 goals, provided the breakthrough, burying the ball into the back of the Jesus net after 17 minutes of play. Unfortunately for Pembroke, shortly after this all-important first goal and with the momentum firmly in their favour they suffered the loss of their skipper, Rory Scott following a clash of heads with a Jesus player. Despite the misfortune of their captain, in the minutes leading up to halftime, Pembroke applied quality pressure to a nervy Jesus defence, creating a number of chances and having an attempt from just outside the six yard box saved by the Jesus keeper almost on the stroke of halftime.
As the old footballing cliche goes; football is a game of two halves; and in the second half, a revitalised Jesus team came out all guns blazing, attacking with pace, power and intent. Their hard work was quickly rewarded when a superb finish courtesy of Jack Anderson, straight into the bottom right hand corner of the goal, gave Jesus their well-deserved equaliser. Not long after, a swift counter-attack landed the ball in acres of space and Tom O’Loughlin calmly slotted away a second for Jesus, who’s supporters were now in full voice.
However, Pembroke responded well to going a goal behind, pushing higher up the pitch with their powerful midfield, eventually winning a free kick just outside the box. The free kick was floated in, where after capitalising on mix up between Jesus defenders, it was bundled into the goal, leaving the score all square once again. The goal, opened the floodgates for a flurry of chances for both sides, both teams playing fast-paced, dynamic football. Almost immediately after the equaliser, Pembroke scored again, once again taking the lead in what was shaping up to be a thrilling cup final. Positive wide play from Pembroke led to the ball being delivered into the box from the wing, where it was met by Peter Harries who’s first attempt was well saved by keeper Gertner who could do nothing about the rebound.
Just when it looked like Pembroke were ready to run away with the game after a comeback of their own, Jesus struck back again with a goal from Harry Roocroft, providing the game’s third equaliser and threatening to send the game into extra time. No cup final would be complete without a dramatic late goal and this time it came from Jesus’ Tom O’Loughlin, who after a well-orchestrated counter-attack, slammed a simple pass into the back of the net, sending the Jesus supporters wild with delight, seeing the cup within their grasp.
Despite a late shower of chances from the gutsy Pembroke team, it was to be this Jesus goal that sealed the cup win after a truly magnificent game, worthy of being nothing less than a cup final.