Jamal Rizvi gives a pundit’s pitch-side perspective…
So UCL Women’s had set the (cross)bar pretty high after their 6-2 demolition of King’s minutes before the Men kicked off. To further this, KCL supporters far outnumbered the UCL purple, and they had brought along horns and drums that drowned out our chants at the beginning of the match. Laughably, all this support would prove unsuccessful, only going to show how King’s are the keen, less successful, younger brother to UCL.
Speaking to Piers Grassman, the main man up top for the UCL 4s, he lamented about, and supported, the fresher, Jerome Bond, “who is starting right back today; he was playing alongside me just a few weeks ago. He has not been playing for the firsts long at all but I have faith he may prove the difference.” Much hype surrounded Jerome as his rise through the ranks of UCL Football left people wondering whether he would be able to cope with the pressure or not. Henry Potter on the other hand could only comment by saying, “Jerome Bond is fit”.
As the game got underway it was a slow start from both sides. The game was mainly played in the middle of the park where it was a matter of staying strong in the challenges and being accurate with the passes. Midway through the first half 11 though, great build up play from the UCL midfield allowed Jamie McElhone, right winger, to sizzle a dangerous square ball across the box and it looked like UCL must score. Unfortunately, the ball could not quite find the back of the net after a scramble around the six yard box.
Next thing I knew, King’s had scored from a freekick that was a stupidly conceded in the UCL half. With just 10 minutes to go before half time, KCL floated the ball into the box and one of their players managed to get on the end of it, half-volleying the ball from just inside the box. The ball flew in off the post and UCL had a lot of work to do.
Just before the close of the first half our UCL striker went down in the box after KCL centre back clipped him from behind. The crowd erupted with screams and shouts of “PENALTY REF!!!” Instead of giving a penalty, the referee decides to warn our striker for diving. At this point it looked like it was not going to be our day. It was half-time.
5 mins into the second half though and… GOAL! UCL scored from a beautifully delivered corner, with Noah Reich slotting the ball home after an initially saved header from another UCL player. We were back in the game, and those drums/horns that KCL had brought along were now failing miserably to silence the Burlington Berties in the crowd.
After the goal, UCL completely dominated the game. Apart from the slight hiccup of a red-headed streaker that stormed the pitch (and subsequently got escorted out of the stadium) UCL nearly scored from a long-range deflected shot, with the ball brushing the top of the net and fooling all of the crowd as we thought the ball had gone in.
Straight after that almost-goal, one of UCL’s centre midfielders took the ball down on his chest and volleyed the ball towards the goal. As we watched in wonder, the ball unfortunately ended up hitting the bar and we were left gobsmacked. Was it going to be our day?
Eventually all the pressure paid off. When left winger, Alex Kozak, darted inside the KCL right back (who Alex had kept in his back pocket all evening), Alex let loose a powerful right-footed beamer that beat the keeper at the nearpost! GOAL!!!!! 2-1! The crowd went crazy and there was almost a pitch invasion – don’t worry, there was one at full-time!
Despite King’s changing formation to only three in defence, there was nothing they could do; and with the substitution that brought on Karl Rogers (former President of the Football Club), UCL looked steadied for a Varsity victory.
The full-time whistle went, and the crowd stormed the pitch. The chants of Burlington Bertie could be heard from miles around.