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By Charles Walmsley
Balliol – 5 (Hostick, 15, Allen, 53, pen, 61, pen, Parham, 116, Atwell, 120)
St Edmund Hall – 5 (Marsh, 16, Mole, 40, 109, Hobkinson, 90, Hilton, 105)
Teddy Hall win 5-4 on penalties after extra-time.
by Joshua Coulson
Ten goals. Two last minute equalisers. A goal from a keeper. Sixteen penalties. Cheerleaders. A mascot. A member of the crowd sent off. Even a vuvuzela. This match simply had everything. The world’s oldest football competition was treated to a classic quarter-final that will live long in the memory of all those who came to watch Teddy Hall’s dramatic victory at Balliol.
Few would have predicted a high scoring game. Balliol earlier this season went over nine hours without conceding whilst Teddy Hall boasted two Blues defenders. But anyone expecting a cagey game was proven wrong within just fifteen minutes as Balliol struck through Jack Hostick, who calmly slotted past Tom Harrison after a delightful through ball from captain Jack Cox. But within 30 seconds Teddy Hall had equalised, setting the tone for a frantic, capsulating match, with Nick Marsh finishing from close range after a long Anthony Beddows throw. Teddy Hall bossed most of the first half and had a series of chances, keeping their large and noisy crowd excited. A team of cheerleaders and a mascot provided constant support as the Hall’s 100-strong crowd outnumbered and out-sung the home team. Five minutes from half-time Teddy Hall got the goal their pressure deserved, and what a goal it was: fresher Ed Mole burst through three challenges to fire into the top corner from the edge of the box.
But as the second half began, so too did the controversy, with Balliol awarded two quickfire penalties after challenges by Marsh and Michael Roberts on Cox and Ben Allen respectively. Both penalties were coolly dispatched by Allen to give Balliol the lead once again. Teddy Hall poured forward in waves from then on, but Balliol’s 4-5-1 formation looked like standing firm. Beddows moved to centre-forward as Teddy Hall chased the game and switched to 3-4-3. Mole shot just wide. Beddows had a pile-driver palmed away but there seemed no breakthrough the Balliol defence, with Greg Gardener and Rossa O’Keeffe-O’Donovan on top form. To add to the drama a Teddy Hall supporter was sent from the ground for running on the pitch and kicking the ball after he thought the referee had stopped play. In unprecedented circumstances the referee then threatened to send off the entire crowd after their protestations. Fortunately he saw sense and the game was allowed to continue with Teddy Hall once again desperately attacking the Balliol goal, but it seemed too little too late. But finally the breakthrough came, and from the unlikeliest of sources. Centre-back Tom ‘Hobby’ Hobkinson had never scored before, but rose imperiously in the Balliol box with just seconds to go sending over a well-directed looping header which deflected off keeper Adam Laycock to nestle in the back of the Balliol net. Cue pandemonium on the Teddy Hall touchline and a mass pileup that invoked the ire of the young referee once again.
3-3 and into extra time, but the momentum was all Teddy Hall’s. Marsh hit the crossbar after a melee in the box, and then, on the stroke of half-time of extra-time, skipper James Hilton tapped in from 2 yards after another long throw. Then came the goal of the game, and again it came from man-of-the-match Mole, who linked up well with Hilton to fire home a sublime finish. At 5-3 to Teddy Hall and with just 4 minutes left of play, surely the game was over? But no one told Balliol that. First Ant Parham headed in from a corner, and then, in the final minute, Sam Atwell struck from 12 yards to send the game to penalties.
And it was to get more dramatic still. Teddy Hall’s second penalty was well-saved by Layock, but Niall MacCrann fired Balliol’s fourth high over the bar. At 4-3 to Balliol in the shootout, Teddy Hall needed a hero, and that man was keeper Tom Harrison. First he stepped up to slot home and take the tie to sudden death and then he saved Ant Parhham’s penalty. Adam Fellows had the chance to win the game for Teddy Hall, but his poor penalty was easily saved. But ‘hero’ Harrison did it again, saving from Atwell, allowing Sam Henderson, who had only been on the pitch for 2 minutes, to fire home and send Teddy Hall through to the semi-final and one step closer to Iffley.
It was a horribly cruel way for Balliol to lose, and as Harrison was lifted onto the shoulders of his jubilant teammates, the Balliol players trudged off, at least with the consolation of having played in an incredible match. One Teddy Hall supporter remarked that it’s not often a keeper lets in nine goals and is carried off the pitch a hero, but Harrison had done it once again, saving the day for his college. This was football at its finest, and certainly its most dramatic. If this match was anything to go by, you’d be crazy to miss the semi-final!
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