Balliol’s last hurrah over New pretenders

first_imgNew 1Balliol 3The age-old dilemma of many a top flight club – to enjoy a cup run or focus solely on staving off relegation – was epitomised in Balliol’s season of mixed fortunes. In the end they will probably settle for the glory of a Cuppers final victory over a New side who will replace them in the Premier Division next year. “On that pitch everyone gave 110%,” said Andy James, the victorious skipper. “I want to thank everyone for an excellent team performance and the fans who made it an awesome day.” James also singled out double goalscorer Ed Thompson for special praise for a “great performance in what was quite a frustrating position”. It was indeed Thompson’s day. Battling alone up front, he held the ball up well in search of support and then stole the glory with two second-half strikes that sealed Balliol’s first Cuppers trophy for 74 years, on a most blustery of days. With the wind funnelling directly down the length of the pitch and with a bouncy ball on a hard surface, this match always threatened a twist until Thompson’s late second, latching onto James Doree’s speculative ball over the top, put the result beyond doubt.The weather certainly did not suit either side, both of whom looked as though they longed to pass the ball and grasp hold of the game but without much success. After an uneventful start, in which both sides failed to create any real chances, Balliol took the lead against the wind. A free kick on the left was played to Julian Rose – hat-trick hero of Balliol’s semi-final triumph – who skipped past his marker and laid the ball off to James Doree to shoot home from 25 yards. This was, however, an open game and with the wind continuing to make life difficult, New equalised just ten minutes after falling behind. A corner from the right was swung into the box by captain Kevin Doak and flicked on by Danny Bamford eluding Balliol’s defence – so often vulnerable from set pieces this season – and knocked in at the far post by Thomas Osborne. For a while the goal sparked a flurry of New attacks, including a Doak volley that managed to hit the underside of the crossbar and the post before bouncing out.Yet although New might have felt reinvigorated they would also have been aware that they faced a battle into the wind in the second half if they were to retain their newfound parity. Indeed, as the game opened up in the second half, Balliol looked increasingly assured on the ball, while New were unlucky to have goalscorer Osborne forced off with injury. However, it took a long kick from Balliol keeper Nick Tufton and a great deal of strength from Ed Thompson to open up the New defence. Thompson latched onto the bouncing ball, muscled his way between the two New centre-backs and slotted home from fifteen yards to give his side a crucial advantage. The match was far from concluded: Tufton was forced to make an outstanding low save to his left to deny New a second equaliser. But when Thompson completed his brace, the door was effectively closed on New’s impressive cup campaign. It was, perhaps, the fairest result of all. A day to savour in Balliol’s largely miserable season, while a disappointing moment for New who might just dream of bigger and better things in the top flight next year.• Queen’s eased to the Premier Division title, securing the top spot with a 2- 0 victory over defending champions Magdalen. St Catz took second place, trailing the leaders by four points.ARCHIVE: 0th week TT 2005last_img read more