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By John Harkness
For Worcester, unable to overhaul Mertsfield in the Premier League, this was their last chance to win a trophy, and the importance of the game was etched on the teamsheet. Adam Healy was deployed as a lone striker ahead of a five-man midfield containing two holding midfielders, the returning Tom Phelan and the captain Tom Greene. Worcester, who had savaged St. Hugh’s and Mertsfield on their way to the Final, were content to simply suffocate New, who were unable to muster a shot on target from open play in the first half and never really seriously questioned Adam Titchen.
With Worcester comfortably controlling the game but never reaching the commanding heights, it fell upon both sets of fans to provide the entertainment. New, who were only a few instruments away from providing a brass band, were the better equipped, but Worcester outgunned them with a series of chants, although considering how cagily Worcester played with a team featuring manifold attacking talent, the thought of the spectacle that a team of Jamie Browns would provide is more than a little troubling.
It was a shame that Niko de Walden did not have a longer chant; although he provided plenty of material with a goal that showcased his oustanding technical quality. Cutting inside from his deployment on the left-wing, he played the ball through to Healy with a delicious, defence-splitting backheel, received the return and coolly finished to give Worcester the lead. It was de Walden’s last goal for the College, and the loss of his skillful forward play will be a double loss; to those who love Worcester and to those who love football.
Having got the lead, Worcester sat back. New saw more of the ball in the second period but did very little with it; the closest that the New forward, Sam Donald got to a kick was a nasty challenge from Phelan that saw the JCR League’s top scorer withdrawn early clutching his leg. It was only when Greene was subbed off that it became apparent that he had been performing an astonishing magical trick: he had made Echikie Onuchukwu, the New playmaker, disappear completely. New, without the resources to test a resolute Worcester, slid slowly to a dour defeat.
It was not an occasion that the neutral will look back on with any great fondness; Worcester’s conservatism killed the game as both a contest and as a spectacle. For Worcester’s players and supporters, however, the trophy will glitter long in the memory.