JCR Premier League

Exeter 3 – 3 Merton/Mansfield

By Richard Foord

Mansfield/Merton pulled off a dramatic last-minute comeback against Exeter college, coming back from 3-1 down at the break to earn a deserved point in the last minute. The result is not ideal for either however, as they both drop dangerously close to the bottom of the premier league table.

Exeter enjoyed the best possible start to the match, converting in the first minute. The Mertsfield defence failing to deal with a cross from the right wing, Hunter’s header looping tamely to Exeter’s Platt who calming slotted past the goalkeeper into the far corner.

Rather than capitulating Mertsfield calmly began to play their way into the game, Captain Samuel Firman asserting himself with several strong direct runs into Exeter territory.   However lone striker Adam Zimmerman cut an isolated figure up front as Mertsfield struggled to create any clear openings.

Nevertheless their perseverance paid off 20 minutes into the game. Right wing ho-joon kim whipping a viscous ball in from the right wing which cannoned around a host of legs before arriving Exeter full back Rob Ainsworth bundled the ball into his own net.

The game subsequently settled down for a spell before Mertsfield’s Hunter was caught in possession on half-way by the persistent Platt, who, in on the keeper, proceeded to slot his second of the match, reinstating Exeters lead as well as cementing his own position at the top of the premier league goal-scoring chart.

Mertsfield once again bounced back, some sharp skill from Kim on the right flank taking allowing him to cross to Zimmerman whose volley has smartly saved by Exeter’s keeper Rupert Therlowe.

However, Exeter ended the first half in the same manner that they began it. Exeter’s  Brocklesby received the ball on the left side of the box, his first shot was blocked by Hunter’s arm, with the balling falling to him again only for his second attempt to be blocked by the keeper. The subsequent appeals for handball for the initial effort was rendered superfluous as the onrushing Charles Cooper converted the rebound, sending Exeter into the break 3-1 up.

The start of the second half was no less dramatic than the start of the first. As the ball swung in from a Mertsfield corner, Exeter keeper Therlowe exchanged some innocuous push and shove with Mertsfield’s Kim, prompting the referee to award perhaps the softest penalty ever conceded in the Jcr league. Both Exeter and Mertsfield players seemed a little confused by the decision, a particularly impassioned Chris Bennett receiving a stern rebuke from the referee for his trouble. However Mertsfield captain Sam Firman kept his head to coolly convert in the bottom corner.

Chances subsequently abounded for both teams, Mertsfield sensing they could get something out of the game and Exeter desperate to put the match to bed. Platt showed a rare lack of composure when he found himself in possession twelve yard from goal: when he elected to play a miscued pass beyond his onrushing team-mate rather than claim his hat-trick. Their was similar frustration in front of goal at the other end as Zimmerman was presented with a clear opening on the left side of the box, only to volley wide.

Eventually though, the perseverance with which Mertsfield had played with all game would pay dividends. Striker Zimmerman turned creator, whipping a ball in from the right flank, evading the Exeter defence and falling to an unmarked Ben Franz at the far post who emphatically fired the ball into the bottom corner, the referee blowing for full time a moment later.

Honours even was a fair result in a game in which both teams had their fair share of chances;  Franz’s last minute equaliser giving Mertsfield the point that they deserved. Even if they got a helping hand from some absurd refereeing.


Wadham 2 – 3 Worcester

By Charles Walmsley

It’s fair to say that Worcester’s season has been sporadic. Aside from Cuppers, where they have yet to concede a goal thanks largely to their Blues contingent, they have failed to establish any kind of league form. That’s not to say their performances have been bad – last week’s 3-0 defeat to St Catz aside they’ve been unlucky not to win more. By contrast their opponents have enjoyed a much better season – before this game they had lost only once.

It came as a surprise then when Worcester started the game as though they were the side nine points clear at the top. Some fast football in midfield and hopeful balls from Liam Steward-George were rewarded with a corner, from which Sam Poulson dutifully snuck a touch to put his side one – nil up after only five minutes. The early goal worked to free the game up with both sides frequently testing the other’s keeper with long range efforts.

Wadham seemed to be playing a 4-2-3-1 with Elliot Miley and Chris Wright in particular causing problems for the defence by dropping off one another, allowing them space to run into. Worcester’s defence too often relied on last ditch tackles to deny their opponents’ attackers and this nearly gifted Wadham an equaliser, only for the away side to waste a two-on-one opportunity. Minutes later Worcester played their best football of the half as Phelan came sprinting from central midfield to lay the ball back to Von Hirsch, whose cross was only half cleared by Wadham captain Shane Grosser. Worcester left back Marcus Maxwell thundered a volley back into the box which Evans took down brilliantly, turning on the edge of the box to fire a shot into the bottom corner.

Two – nil up and Worcester were beginning to look comfortable. Another Steward-George corner caused more problems for Jack Firth, nearly putting the game beyond doubt before half time. However Worcester’s inconsistences once again showed themselves as they began to lose shape at the back and in central midfield. The use of the attacking four simply confused Worcester as the Wadham attack increasingly worked themselves into the space between the midfield and defence. First a sprint down Wadham’s right wing from Miley opened up the Worcester back line, leaving the imaginatively named ‘Neal the Barman’ to pull one back.

Suddenly Worcester were rattled and Wadham found more and more time and space to create chances. A good tackle from Ben Sloman resulted in a corner just before half time, giving Wadham a chance to go into half time level. The Worcester defence failed to clear and the ball dropped to Jeremy Stothardt on the edge of the box, who blasted the ball past Green to equalise. The remainder of the half was played out in Wadham’s terms , with Worcester desperate for a respite and the chance to regroup.

Coming out for the second half Worcester were clearly more determined. Early tackles from captain Mark Isaacs and fellow centre back Nick Booth set the tone for a half they would dominate from the back. After only two minutes Steward-George was fouled about forty yards out. Worcester’s clear height advantage paid dividends as Scott-Taylor flicked the ball on to Poulson who scored at the back post.

Defensively Isaacs’ side were excellent in the second period, reducing Wadham to a handful of chances. Marcus Maxwell and Sloman in particular were solid, not allowing the wingers to exploit space as they had done at the end of the first half. Only twice did Wadham  really test Green and it was only in the 86th minute when a shot cruelly came off the post, that he was truly beaten. With two minutes remaining Wadham threw everything forward, but long balls simply allowed Isaacs and Booth to clear, and when the final whistle went Worcester were worthy winners.