St John’s win extra time thriller in Football Cuppers final
For the second year in a row the final ended in extra time, with Pembroke coming off second best.
The game started scrappily with neither side getting much going on the pitch in the early minutes. The game was being played in difficult conditions on quite a bobbly pitch. This meant that fluid fast football was not an option for either side.
After and even start to the game Pembroke established a period of dominance through the strong play of Marcus Nielsen and David Ifere, who were a constant pain to St John’s throughout the evening.
A few chances were missed early on by both sides with the best chance falling to David Ifere, who was through on goal before being called back for a very suspect foul. The sustained pressure eventually paid off after a wonderful goal from Marcus Nielsen in which he went past three Johnians before slotting the ball neatly into the bottom corner of the net to give Pembroke a deserved 1-0 lead.
This was much to the delight of the raucous Pembroke crowd who dominated the St John’s fans in both number and volume throughout the encounter. The turn out from Pembroke was quite brilliant and they were in great voice all night. They even went as far as to bring a band with them and prepare a hymnal for the event.
After the first goal however St John’s took control of the game and put a sustained amount of pressure on the Pembroke defenders who held out well for most of the match. However John’s eventually equalized in the dying moments of the first half with a strike from Charlie Selway which got a timely deflection on its way into the back of the net.
The second half started just as evenly as the first with Pembroke resorting to the long ball to try and get an opportunity, one nearly came Ifere who was denied by Ballard. However as the half went on it seamed increasingly like St John’s were going to win as they were camped in the Pembroke half for most of the second half and it was only the resilient defense from Pembroke that kept the second half scoreless.
The game was nearly ended in regulation as St John’s grazed the outside of the post with the last kick of the second half, but the shot went wide and the game went to extra time, just like it had the year before when Jesus beat Pembroke to win the cup.
As soon as extra time started it looked like John’s were going to pull away as Pembroke seemed to be the more fatigued side. This was when the pace of Alex Gaskell showed, he scored early on in extra time after a long ball from Fillippa put him straight through on goal where he scored on his second effort to make the game 2-1.
After the second goal from St John’s the result never really looked in doubt, and the game was sealed when Gaskell scored again using his pace to get in behind the defense and put a brilliant finish past the Pembroke keeper to make the game 3-1.
Pembroke kept fighting and their supporters kept singing right until the final whistle, which is testament to the character of the Pembroke team but the game was effectively over after the third goal from St John’s.
The game fished 3-1 and John’s won the cup for the ninth time. Pembroke are still waiting for their first ever cuppers win. It was a brilliantly exciting end to this year’s completion, and when you look at the competition as a whole you have to feel that the best team won.