St Hugh’s 2Queen’s 1They may be the Queen’s college but there has been nothing regal about Queen’s start to their Cuppers campaign. This was the upset of the first round. Although Hugh’s have an established reputation as a top flight club and a side capable of reaching the latter stages of this historic competition, Queen’s bring with them a vast array of Blues talent, apparently superior football ability and, at least before the last two games, a feared reputation as the best side in Oxford. What they did not have, it would seem, was Hugh’s fighting spirit, or their good fortune.For 90% of the game Queen’s looked as if their royal reputation was at least partly justified. After a sluggish start they had begun to move the ball better, finding gaps in the Hugh’s defence and, although never looking as inventive or incisive as their status would suggest, looked to be trampling Hugh’s resolve in a blitz-like example of attritional warfare. But two shock second half goals in an ocean of subordination, two careless moments from a complacent Queen’s defence, created two moments of joy for a Hugh’s side who had endured an afternoon of struggle and apprehension.It appears as though another lengthy cup run could be on the cards for the men in yellow.Hugh’s had reached half time a goal adrift and then it seemed that only one result was likely. Sush Yaliamanychili’s 25th minute strike had provided Queen’s with a deserved lead and, with the half time introduction of the inspirational Kurosh Nikbin, victory and the end of their early season nightmare seemed assured. But it was here that Hugh’s blitz spirit showed through. Their first goal came on 60 minutes as Christos Hajipapas, to the bewilderment of both sets of fans, found himself alone in the area and advancing on the goalkeeper, managing to hold his nerve and lift the ball over the keeper’s sprawled form. It represented Hugh’s first shot on target in the game and seemed both to shock them out of their reverence and turn Queen’s defence into a bundle of nerves. Adam Macanelly terrorised the Queen’s right back, throwing himself into three consecutive challenges while Matt Sale almost gave his side the lead with another one-on-one opportunity. Hugh’s blood was up. After being out-battled and outclassed by Nikbin and treated with imperious disdain by the excellent John Butterfield for the whole match, they could finally sense their opportunity.With 75 minutes gone the battlers overcame the artistes. A long throw caused panic in the area, a goalmouth scramble ensued and the ball ricocheted into the path of Adeep Rawal who turned it in to the empty net from ten yards. It was another goal that came against a tide of Queen’s possession and intense pressure, but the visitors had deservedly suffered for their complacency. To Hugh’s handful of attacks, Queen’s had spawned a host of excellent opportunities. Yalamanchili, Carpenter, Nikbin and Zacariah had all forced their way through the Hugh’s defence but none of them had converted. Theirs had been a dominant but messy performance and they had been punished mercilessly.There was more anguish to come later on for Hugh’s: Nikbin twice went close from outside the box, but they deservedly held out and recorded a memorable cup upset. It was a clinical, professional, if workmanlike performance from the underdogs against which the royal colours of Queen’s had no answer. They will have to fight hard if they want to retain their crown.Despite being lauded universally as pre-season favourites and tipped to extend their dominance of the college football landscape, resounding opening day defeat has been followed by this: a lethargic and supercilious embarrassment against a team they would expect to stroll past and, for the second time in as many seasons, their ignominious exit from Cuppers before their campaign had seriously begun. ARCHIVE: 3rd week MT 2005