Part II of my College Cup so far mini-series includes arguably the best-performing college and the worst. It also involves the two teams who I think will eventually face each other in the final – James 1sts and Vanbrugh 1sts. And at the end of this post, I have included a few College Cup 2012 stats, for those of you who enjoy a bit of number-crunching.
Tournament form: 6/10
The James 1st team are a formidable bunch who I expect will go all the way to the final. They are strong in all departments, boasting the attacking flair of Tom Clarke, the midfield energy of Richard Baxter and the defensive nous of Oscar Lynch. Their opening match was a hard-fought win over their main Group A rivals Alcuin 1sts, followed by an annihilation of Wentworth 2nds. If you are a James fan, you just hope they haven’t peaked too soon in the tournament and that they can maintain their exceptional start.
|Clarke celebrates with his teammates after scoring a hat-trick|
against Wentworth 2nds (Photo: Oliver Todd)
Meanwhile, the 2nds secured a brilliant 1-0 win over a sluggish Halifax 1sts in their opening match. They took advantage of one of their few clear sights of goal, which is what you must do when you accept your opponents will have the majority of possession. However, they were brought back down to Earth yesterday with a 2-1 defeat to Vanbrugh 3rds. Despite this, I expect them to win their next two games and go into their final match against Goodricke 1sts with a real chance of qualification.
It has been a difficult start for the 3rds, though, who sit at the bottom of Group A along with Wentworth 1sts. It’s not that they have played especially badly; they have lost both games by the odd goal. They seemed to tire in the second half against Goodricke but probably still deserved a point, while their defeat against Halifax 3rds could have been a different story had Johnny Williamson not hit the bar with his penalty. Fine margins.
Tournament form: 4/10
The college of Langwith have had a mixed start to the Cup, winning one game from a possible four. The 1sts should have beaten Alcuin 2nds; had Andy Hutt not fluffed his lines and made it 2-0 they would have surely won all three points. As it was, they conceded a late equaliser. On Monday, they were never really in the game against Vanbrugh 1sts and were lucky to only lose 3-0. I don’t think they will make it to the cup quarter finals, but should secure a place in the Plate.
|Langwith 2nds celebrate their only win for the college so far,|
against Wentworth 1sts (Photo: TK Rohit)
The second team have enjoyed more success than their first team cousins in Group 1. Their narrow defeat to Derwent 1sts demonstrated the incredible energy levels the side had to match one of the tournament favourites for long periods. They nearly found an equaliser in the second half too, as Will Prescott’s long throw-ins were proving troublesome. Their win against Wentworth 2nds was quite simply crucial if they are to have any hope of qualification. I cannot see them finishing in the top two, though, so once again for a Langwith team, Plate qualification would be the realistic target.
Tournament form: 9/10
|Phil Taylor orchestrates another Vanbrugh 1sts attack|
(Photo: Tom Wooldridge)
If you are a Vanbrite (like me) you’ll be pretty damn pleased with the progress of the three teams so far. Out of the six games played, five wins have been notched; the best record of any college. The 1sts have barely broken sweat yet have recorded back-to-back 3-0 wins, against Derwent 3rds and Langwith 1sts. Phil Taylor looks calm and composed in midfield and, although Elliot Rous-Ross is yet to score, I’m sure he will find his form come the end of the group stages. The full backs also look really dangerous marauding forward; teams must learn how to stop Rob Rix or else risk being completely swamped down their right. Should Vanbrugh top Group 4, their chances in the quarter finals are looking good with Derwent 2nds being deducted two points in Group 3.
The only defeat suffered by a Vanbrugh side thus far has been the 2nds' 3-2 reverse against Halifax 4ths. In truth, they should have been at least three or four goals up before they crumbled spectacularly late on. But the side recovered with a steady performance on Thursday against Goodricke 3rds. Their next match is against Wentworth 2nds which should prepare them nicely for the clash with Alcuin 1sts and then James 1sts. It’s a very tough group, but Alcuin have been far from convincing so I will back Vanbrugh to sneak in behind James.
The way things are looking for the 3rds, they could well face their 1sts cousins in the quarter finals. The team secured a narrow 1-0 win against Derwent 2nds with a goal out of nowhere, and their defending in that match was magnificent. And they produced another gritty, determined performance yesterday beating James 2nds thanks to James Robinson’s late winner. The team seem to have the ability to soak up pressure and take their chances at the other end, and things are going for them so far. Also, manager Mike Sutcliffe is always extremely vocal on the touchline and always lets his players know if standards are slipping, which is a sign of a great leader.
Tournament form: 2/10
It has been a difficult tournament for the post-graduates, who have recorded five defeats out of six for their three teams so far, the worst record of any college. The 1sts have lost both their matches in Group 1 thus far, despite the best efforts of star player and captain Wayne Paes in midfield. They have put up a good fight in their matches, but defeats to Halifax 3rds and Langwith 2nds were games they would have been looking to win. They now face an uphill struggle to even qualify for the Plate.
|Unhappy Wentworth faces after their shock 2-1 defeat to|
Halifax 3rds (Photo: Tom Wooldridge)
Wentworth 2nds have notched the college’s only victory in the Cup, a 3-0 win over Goodricke 2nds, but the 8-0 defeat to James 1sts will have rocked confidence. However, they must hope that James will play just as well against the other teams and that they recover their form quickly.
Wentworth 3rds have had a tricky time of late as well, being without a goal in their two defeats against Halifax 2nds and Derwent 3rds. They need to make sure their next encounter against Vanbrugh 1sts isn’t a cricket score and that they can recover to perhaps nick a Plate position.
College Cup 2012: In numbers
Total games: 24
Total goals: 73
Most group goals: 25 (Group 2)
Fewest group goals: 14 (Group 1)
Top scorer: Tom Clarke (4 goals)
Total draws: 1 (Langwith 1sts 1-1 Alcuin 2nds)
Highest college win tally: 6 (Halifax)
Highest college win percentage: 83.3% (Vanbrugh)
Teams yet to concede: 3 (Vanbrugh 1sts; Derwent 1sts; Goodricke 1sts)