St. Edmund Hall 2 – 2 Lady Margaret Hall (St. Edmund Hall won on penalties)
St. Catherine's 0 – 5 Worcester Talismanic goalkeeper Nicola Ielpo once again took Teddy Hall to victory as they sneaked into the Cuppers final, courtesy of a penalty shoot-out victory against LMH on Friday. LMH will certainly feel hard done by after outplaying Hall for large chunks of this absorbing encounter. In a game that at times lacked quality, they acquitted themselves admirably, twice taking the lead against Hall, only to be pegged back both times, with defensive lapses costing them dear. The dogged Hall side, who have won three out of their last four Cuppers matches on penalty shoot-outs, will now face top of the table Worcester at Iffley road in Cuppers Final in 8th week. LMH entered the game at the top of Division 1, but with the addition of several University players, they looked more than capable of causing an upset to a Teddy Hall side that has gone from strength to strength in the JCR premiership, unbeaten in all competitions since November. It was LMH who made all the early running, taking a deserved lead after twenty minutes of unrelenting pressure. Their giant centre-back rose unmarked at a corner to clatter a header against the bar, and striker Wheeler reacted fastest to nod the ball into the net. Hall’s response was immediate; a slip from the LMH left-back let in Talbot-Smith who took the keeper by surprise, arrowing in off the far post. Despite these two early goals, both sides struggled to settle, with misplaced passes and snatched half chances epitomising the rest of the first half. Talbot-Smith again found room in the LMH penalty area, but his snapshot clipped the post on its way wide; while LMH’s dominance at set pieces was yielding results as Ielpo was kept on his toes throughout. In the second half Tom Wherry’s dominance in the air for LMH, coupled with the tricky wingplay of McCrickerd and Allchin, meant that Teddy Hall at times found themselves penned in their own half, with Wilfred Frost looking increasingly isolated up front. A goal seemed imminent and the right foot of Allchin provided it. His composed finish with twenty minutes remaining would have killed off most sides, but Captain John Waldron has instilled a ‘never say die’ attitude in this Hall team, and yet again, when asked the question, their response was swift. Mike Sopp’s through-ball released Talbot-Smith marauding down the right hand side. His cross looked to be too close to goalkeeper Di Capite, but Wilfred Frost’s ‘old fashioned’ challenge caused havoc and in the ensuing melee Frost bundled it over the line to draw the teams level once more. The game was now thrown wide open. Heroic last ditch tackling from Waldron and Lefanu kept the LMH front line at bay, while at the other end a deflected cross from the mercurial Mike Sopp trickled agonisingly wide, with the keeper beaten as time expired. 120 minutes could not separate the sides, and so it went to the agony of a penalty shoot-out. Italian ex-Serie C keeper Nicola Ielpo has an outstanding record in penalty shootouts, and despite picking up an injury in the second half, he saved two LMH spot kicks, to the relief of Hall captain Waldron after his pathetic excuse for a penalty. The enigmatic Talbot-Smith then stepped up to nonchalantly stroke the decisive penalty home, to send Teddy Hall into the final. In the other semi-final, Premiership title contenders Worcester had a comfortable 5-0 victory over St Catz. Blues striker Niko de Walden had effectivley guaranteed the victory for the Premier Division giants within the first twenty minutes with two goals. Kunal Desai added a third on the stroke of half time. Two second half goals from Tim Grady and Danny Plaxton added further gloss to the scoreline, but a young Catz side will be all the better for the experience of competing at such a level as they seek to build for next season in the Premier Division.by Ben Cossey