Men's Cuppers Semi Final Round Up
As we count down the hours till the big day, we look back at the incredible, fiercely contested semi final match ups.
Christ Church 3-1 Wadham
As soon as play began, it was clear we were in for a high-quality game. Wadham looked to play their brand of penetrative attacking football which had blown away Teddy Hall in the Quarter Final. The opening exchanges were cautious, both sides probing one-another’s defences for signs of weakness.
It was a set piece which brought the opening goal to give Christ Church the lead. Following the example of footballing demigod Phil Jones, Cleary lumbered up from CB to take a corner. The result was picture-perfect. Barton set off, his characteristically lengthy stride leaving his marker off balance. In came the delivery, driven in low along the ground. There was no time for a touch, but the speed of Barton’s first-time shot worked to his advantage, giving the keeper no time to get across.
The boys in white and purple fought their way through to half time with the scoreboard still narrowly in their favour. The Christ Church faithful had roared them on tirelessly, and now numbered close to, if not over, 100. Christ Church’s second goal came, again, from Patrick Barton. Before that, however, Wadham had managed to fight their way back into the game, danger man Thelen finally finding some freedom from Nick Woolley by cutting inside and unleashing a brilliant finish.
But almost as soon as Wadham thought themselves back in the game, Barton plundered another equaliser. Pressure from (Super) Danny Hatton left the ball loose in the attacking third, and Wadham’s keeper came out of his area to clear his lines. Before he could get there, however, Barton stole in to first touch the ball away from the Wadham man, and then to loft the ball over his head. Now beyond anyone’s intervention, 22 players breathlessly watched its path downwards and, finally, under the crossbar and in. Lead restored.
Time was now running out for Wadham and they responded accordingly. Full backs started pushing higher up in an effort to force the issue, but this left the kind of gaps that Christ Church were more than capable of exploiting. A ball played into the path of Patrick Barton was perfectly weighted, the Wadham defence hadn’t reacted in time and the centre-back pairing was out of position and dangerously high. Barton turned on the afterburners and left them behind. He was clean through with plenty of space. But as he entered the area, the Wadham keeper was out quickly to meet him. Christ Church’s number 9 let the goalkeeper spread himself wide and throw himself towards the ball, waiting for the moment when his outstretched left leg rose up above the ground. In that moment Paddy struck, the ball rolling under the keeper and into the open goal behind. It rounded off a quite exceptional hat-trick for the frontman.
Despite the scoreline, there was still life in the game. Wadham managed a few shots from range which drifted wide and fired in a few through balls which were cut out, or gratefully snaffled by the keeper.
With the two-goal margin still intact, Christ Church learned from the near miss and tightened up. There were a few more half chances at both ends, with Christ Church arguably looking more likely to nick a fourth than concede a second, but there would be no more additions to the scoreline. As the referee brought the semi-final to its end and the home crowd swarmed onto the pitch to celebrate.
Full Report: https://buff.ly/2Gs8KNb
New 2-1 Worcester
The rain, the pitch, the occasion - it was always going to be a scrappy game. A replay of last year’s final saw New take on Worcester in a bid for their second successful Cuppers final appearance. An early goal from James Foord from a pin-point Ry Otake set piece gave New the lead, but a calmly finished penalty just before the whistle saw the teams go in level at halftime. As the second half ticked on, the weather worsened and the game became more and more tense. That was until some sterling work from Dylan Evans down the left hand side saw him beat a number of helpless Worcester defenders before sliding the ball across the face of goal for Tom McShane to bury into the top corner. And that was that - 15 minutes of tough defending later and NCAFC came out on top to book their place at Iffley.