Magdalen 2-0 Oriel by George Croft
Turning up to the ground to find the away team already changed and blaring out house music would have put many teams off their stride, but even a heavy Afrojack electro remix (can someone send me the link?) couldn’t shake a determined Magdalen side on a run of good form. The first half was a cagey affair, as a strong, swirling wind inhibited any chance of flowing football, a situation that favoured a fairly toothless Oriel looking to take advantage of any Magdalen mistakes. Hard tackles were aplenty, including a particularly vicious (and illegal) two-footer from Oriel holding midfielder Jason Adebesi, who barely escaped an early bath.
With the teams goalless at the break, the pressure was placed heavily on Magdalen’s shoulders, who, as heavy favourites, would no doubt have expected to be up at this stage. As the game wore on this pressure increased, as a stubborn Oriel defence was on hand to repel attack after attack from the home side. Even the post contrived to prevent a Mamoru Takano effort from finding the net. A moment of magic, or outrageous luck, was needed to break the deadlock, and that come via the outside of Robert Frost’s right boot, as a cross-cum-shot flew in off the underside of the bar. One nil to the good, Magdalen never looked like relinquishing their lead, and the win was sealed late on as George Croft sent a perfect 50 yard ball with his weaker left foot, into the path of the onrushing Patrick Meniru, who finished coolly. All in all it was an efficient, if unspectacular victory from a strong Magdalen side, who have yet to concede in this competition. New College face them in the semis, an encounter likely to be much tighter than this one.
Balliol 3-4 New by Victor Mallett
Friday of third week was an important day for any avid college football fan. The quarter finals of Cuppers were staged across Oxford with each lower-league side keen to keep their dreams of glory alive. Two of the minnows of the competition, second division Balliol and New squared off in what proved to be a thriller on Jowett Walk.
After New’s loss last term to the opponents, the emphasis was placed firmly on physical dominance and a strong start to the game – neither of which materialised. The hosts were in the ascendancy from the kick-off, and before long engineered a crafty goal from a quick free kick which defeated the unsuspecting Will Mycroft at his near post. Chances were hard to come by and both teams struggled to keep possession.
But Thomas Pearson-Jones, New College’s young talisman, dramatically levelled the scores. From forty yards he hung a free kick high in the box which Balliol’s ‘keeper catastrophically failed to stop. The strong away support revelled in his misery.
Balliol would respond though, and again set pieces would prove to be New’s downfall, as a dangerous cross to the back post was emphatically headed home. With time ticking down towards half time, New were struggling to redress the balance before a break from Sam Donald lead to an Onuchukwu tap in. The scores were level at 2-2 as the whistle went.
The goal proved crucial, as New found more life in the second period. A dangerous long throw from the journeyman Elford was spilled into the path of Donald who obligingly reinforced his position as college football’s leading scorer. Then, after a sublime through ball, Onuchukwu coolly lobbed the ‘keeper to extend New’s lead to two goals.
The final ten minutes were fraught with drama. Balliol pulled one goal back with five minutes to go but New’s defence held firm – the victory was sweet and extremely well-celebrated.
Merton/Mansfield 2-1 Teddy Hall by Jeff Burgin
On a blustery day at the ‘Aah, Bisto’ Arena, the ‘Mmm, Danone’ Merton/Mansfield Thundercats prevailed in a full-blooded encounter against Teddy Hall.
The match started ferociously, with no quarters being given or asked. A sizable Hall presence of variable banter was silenced, however, with a teksquisite finish from Coleman after a late run, inevitably drawing comparisons with Danny Tiatto. Tempers flared, with numerous crunching tackles followed by a vicious case of handbags at ten paces between Franz and Teddy Hall players and fans alike, the incident inevitably drawing comparisons to the notorious spats of Frode Kippe. Chances were few and far between, Colin-Jones making a couple of smart stops that inevitably drew comparisons to a young Steve Ogrizovic or Mart Poom, and at half-time it remained 1-0.
Hall restarted strongly but faced a resolute Young, Camp and Burgin defence, a backline to trigger many a predictable George Michael joke, which drew inevitable comparisons to the stoic defending of Steve Potts, Scott Minto and Rigobert Song. Their pressure told as they forced one home around the hour mark, but with ten minutes to go a display of unbelievable crossing tekkers from Mayou was finished by Firman (a partnership that inevitably draws comparisons with Uwe Rosler and Jo Tessem), sparking wild celebrations from the Merton/Mansfield supporter. Despite an onslaught of pressure the fresh legs of Cooper, Forde and Hunter (a threesome that inevitably draws comparisons to Steve Guppy, Muzzy Izzet and Andy Impey), replacing the tireless Firman, Harris and Chrisp (the latter two inevitably drawing comparisons to Mark Kinsella and Andy Todd), and the ever-sprightly running of T. Young (a player who inevitably draws comparisons with Scot Gemmill) ensured that the Ms held out for a hard-fought victory.