Early goals at the start of each half sealed victory for the Vanbrugh 2nds against James 2nds today, for whom a late consolation goal failed to hide Vanbrugh’s superiority throughout this encounter. Goals from Ben Kirkby and Sam Taylor put Vanbrugh in the driving seat before Ben Cooke got one back for James ten minutes from the end. James’ hopes for an equaliser were short-lived though, as a cheeky Dan Radford finish sealed an impressive victory for Vanbrugh.
In an energetic opening period, there were chances for both teams but it was Vanbrugh who looked the more likely to open the scoring. Vanbrugh defender Dan Radford had already skimmed the bar with an early effort from a corner, whilst up front the direct Ben Kirkby was causing James’ defence problems with his pace. It was no surprise then when Kirkby, on five minutes, put Vanbrugh 1-0 ahead. James goalkeeper Toby Owen rushed out to meet a hoisted long ball into the area only to find himself beaten by Sam Taylor in the air, and the ball fell to an unmarked Kirkby with the goal gaping to slot home and put Vanbrugh in the lead, despite James’ claims for offside. After this frenzied start the game settled down into a more sedate rhythm, with Rory Sharkey forcing a smart save from Owen and Sam Taylor scoffing a one-on-one just before half time, as Vanbrugh pressed for a second goal.
The goal came within minutes of the re-start, and effectively confirmed victory for Vanbrugh. After a period of sustained pressure in the James penalty box, a drive from Max Poynter-Hall was spilled by Owen, and Sam Taylor reacted quickest to poke home and make it 2-0. After conceding the second goal, James worked hard to get back in the match and find a goal, but found their attempts strangled as Vanbrugh kept their discipline and even threatened to score a third.
It wasn’t until the final ten minutes that James started to assert themselves and enjoy a sustained period of control, pushing players forward and threatening first through Lewis Wilkie and then a Johnny Hyde free-kick. It was Ben Cooke who broke through for James though, getting on the end of a fast counter-attack and calmly slotting home from a tight angle. Any chances of a James fightback were snuffed out five minutes from the end though, when the ball broke in the James area to the excellent Dan Radford to nonchalantly chip the onrushing Toby Owen and secure victory for Vanbrugh.
Vanbrugh goalkeeper and captain Kallum Taylor said after the match that he was proud of his team’s performance, even though he had “expected more” from James. “We kept our heads and came through the match well,” said Taylor.