So as we come to the end of the second week of College Cup action, it’s time we take stock of what has happened. Rather than look at the tournament in a group-by-group basis, I will examine how each college is performing as a whole. If I were a player, I would quite like to be in either Vanbrugh or Halifax right now; most of their teams are performing very well indeed and the mood in the training sessions must be pretty upbeat. At the other end of the scale, being a Wentworth fan must be a painful experience with all three teams struggling. In terms of the destiny of the cup, I will stick my neck out and predict a Vanbrugh 1sts vs James 1sts final. If you think differently, let me know what you think!
Tournament form: 4/10
The three Alcuin teams have had a mixed bag of results so far in the College Cup. In Group 2, the 1sts put up a good fight against a fearful James 1sts side last week, but eventually lost 3-1. Marshall was in fine form, almost single-handedly keeping his side in the match against James' stella attacking force. Then yesterday, they rode their luck a couple of times before seeing off underdogs Halifax 4ths. I was particularly impressed with Will Taylor down the left; he appeared their only useful outlet. Their match against Vanbrugh 2nds on 28th May will probably decide who finishes second behind James 1sts.
|Alcuin 1sts are by no means guaranteed progress|
The 2nds are still awaiting their first victory after drawing 1-1 against Langwith 1sts and losing 3-2 against Halifax 2nds. In the latter match, Scholz impressed with his finishing, bagging two goals to complete the comeback to 2-2, but Alcuin were desperately unlucky to be undone by a Stevenson wondergoal with minutes remaining. I think they may struggle to qualify for the Cup after that result.
And things aren't looking terribly good for the 3rds either; they were on the end of a 2-0 defeat to Goodricke’s first string last Thursday before being crushed by Halifax 6-1 today. Their aim will be to qualify for the plate, but for them to be a realistic chance they will have to beat an in-form Vanbrugh 3rds in their next match.
Tournament form: 4/10
It has been an underwhelming tournament so far for Derwent. In Group 1, despite winning both their games, Derwent 1sts are clearly not firing on all cylinders just yet. A nervy 1-0 win over Langwith 2nds was followed by another similar performance against Goodricke 2nds. But the main thing is that they have been very solid defensively, giving away very few chances. I expect as the tournament progresses they will become more clinical up front; their next match against James 3rds could be the platform for that.
|Derwent 1sts are yet to reach their full potential|
However, things could be worse as the 2nds have shown. The team have had a torrid tournament so far in Group 3, sitting on minus two points for not sending a referee to the Alcuin 2nds-Halifax 2nds match, losing 1-0 to Vanbrugh 3rds and then again today against Goodricke 1sts. Their hopes for cup qualification look all but over, and it will be a big ask to even get into the Plate.
Derwent 3rds have had a decent start to their campaign in Group 4, recording a vital 1-0 win over Wentworth 3rds after being overpowered by Vanbrugh 1sts 3-0. Their next match against Alcuin 2nds will be the critical fixture for me; if they lose that then I can’t see them progressing in the Cup.
Tournament form: 7/10
The men from Heslington East have produced some impressive performances so far in this year’s tournament. The 1sts beat Alcuin 3rds with some attractive play, a refreshing break from the long balls we so often see on the JLD. Then their 1-0 win over Derwent 2nds today epitomised the team’s excellent work-rate. They are now in an excellent position to reach the quarter finals, but will need to pass the Halifax 1sts test in their next match to stay on track.
|Goodricke 1sts look in good shape after two matches|
The 2nds can be also pleased with their record so far in Group 1. A 1-0 defeat to Derwent 1sts is nothing to be ashamed of, while their win over James 3rds was characterised by a gutsy second half display, capped by a marvellous Joe Mann finish. Their next match is against Wentworth 1sts who are in trouble after two defeats, and I will back them to finish second behind Derwent if they keep their form up.
But things aren’t looking so rosy for Goodricke 3rds, the only side from the college I have worries about. To be beaten 3-0 by Wentworth 2nds will raise a few concerns, especially the manner of defeat; when the early goal went in, heads seemed to drop. The team were more solid yesterday against Vanbrugh 2nds but rarely troubled Tom Williams and lost 2-0.
Tournament form: 8/10
What a tournament this college is having. Although the 1sts surprisingly lost to James 2nds last week, they responded in style today with a 6-1 thrashing of Alcuin 3rds. With so many university players in their team, including the likes of Dan Turley and Ash Daly, it was inevitable they would find their stride sooner rather than later. The result has come at the perfect time as Goodricke 1sts are their next opposition on Monday, and they will be no pushovers.
The 2nds have enjoyed a 100 per cent start in Group 4, crushing Wentworth 3rds 5-0 which showcased the talents of Jake Mundy and Fraser Moyle in attack. When your team is hungry for goals like that it really breeds confidence throughout the XI. Their 3-2 win over Alcuin 2nds was a test of character; they should have been out of sight but had to swallow an Alcuin comeback, only to strike a late winner. They should reach the quarter finals without too much trouble and could give Vanbrugh 1sts a run for their money in the final group game.
|Halifax 2nds have won both of their opening two matches|
It’s been a great time for the 3rds as well, who have been workmanlike and professional. They won the first game of the College Cup – a surprise 2-1 win over Wentworth 1sts – followed by a narrow 1-0 win over James 3rds, thanks in part to Shin Murata’s heroics in goal. Can they qualify? Well, Goodricke 2nds will be the major opposition of course, who they face on 1st June. But what may count in their favour is that they face Derwent 1sts in their last group game, and Derwent may have already qualified by then.
Finally, the 4ths can be proud of their efforts so far. Their comeback victory against Vanbrugh 2nds was nothing short of sensational and they were unlucky to lose to Alcuin 1sts yesterday. I have been highly impressed with Alec Rieck – shouldn’t he be in the 2nds or 3rds? He’s big, strong and a handful for defenders. Their long ball game seems to be paying dividends on such a bouncy surface as well. I expect them to finish fourth to qualify for the plate, which would constitute a highly successful tournament.