James struggled but still managed a 3-0 win in their penultimate group match of this year’s college cup against a tough Goodricke who will be disappointed with the result. They kept James at bay for the majority of the match and so will feel hard done by with some questionable offside decisions that gave James a comfortable enough lead in the second half to see the game through.
Goodricke played five men in defence, making their tactics clear; avoid the onslaught. Said onslaught never seemed to appear however, a strong James outfit unable replicate their usual blitz of goals. The swans started brightly, always looking for the ball through to James Briars or James Davies, with Andrew Jopson in supply of decent deliveries as they looked for an immediate impact. Briar’s control of a cross in from Jopson was too heavy for him to take it under control, though the ball fell kindly to Freddie Ferraio, whose shot sailed over. James’ finishing on the whole seemed to have an off day, Davies making light work of running through the defence but once one on one with goal keeper Alex Woolley, rolled the ball wide. Jopson again commanded the right by-line, this time deciding to shoot at the near post, hitting his shot wide, with Briars in a much better position in the penalty area.
The breakthrough came after 20 minutes, a seemingly simple move from James, intricate enough to not be dealt with. An excellent ball from James Briars started the move, playing in Jopson who outran the defence before crossing low into Davies, who in his form couldn’t miss, slotting home from close range.
Now in front many would have panicked for Goodricke, assuming James would go one to run away with the match, their finishing didn’t improve however, Ferraio heading over from a good position after Josh Spurling set Jopson away down the wing once again. James were unable to get their second to put daylight between the sides before half time, though they continued to have their chances, a stinging effort from Joe Fox was tipped over the bar by Woolley, and right on the whistle Smalley was on hand to clear off the line to stop Briars doubling James’ lead.
Though James dominated possession for most of the game, at times they looked vulnerable at the back, Goodricke pressuring the centre backs to clear long balls forward, Tandey getting the better of Callum Taylor early in the second half, through there was still a lot of work for him to do and his volley glided a foot wide.
Some solid keeping from Goodricke man of the match Alex Woolley left James frustrated as they remained only one goal clear, Davies twice being denied by the Goodricke keeper. James got their wish however but not without controversy, Ferraio looking a yard offside as he chased Briars pass and slotted home with a cool finish, leaving his opposition fuming but his team relieved. Although he did get on the score sheet, Davies may feel unsatisfied with the number of chances that went begging, one on one with the keeper he was outmuscled by a tracking defender and took on the entire defence on another occasion, only to have his shot saved by Wolley. James added a third at the end, Davies managing to make up for his misses by turning provider to play Briars through one on one, with a professional finish though once again everyone on the side-lines and in a green side was adamant he was offside.
Though James will admit they were not at their best, winning when not playing well is necessary of a successful team, and Ralph Gill is still impressed with their defensive record, ‘ we didn’t take our chances and we were quite wasteful, didn’t move the ball well but I mean it’s a 3-0 win and we still haven’t conceded’. Man of the match: Joe Fox
Goodricke will feel unlucky to have lost by three with a solid performance against a team yet to concede in the competition, as their captain Michael Olsen reflected, ‘I’m really gutted because we defended really well but we’ll pick ourselves up and go in again’.