Photos: Jack Western
It may be the spring term, but conditions were positively wintery as Wentworth overcame Alcuin 2-0 in their opening college football fixture after the Christmas break. The game was placed in doubt by the morning frost, but after a half-hour delay the captains decided the ground was fit for play. The match was of generally poor quality from start to finish. The quality that was on show came largely from the postgraduates, and two first half goals from Ciaran Lynch and Chris Papoui secured victory.
The first real chance of the game came after sixteen minutes, as Papoui found himself through on goal inside the box, but miscued his shot wide of the post. After twenty-three minutes they got the breakthrough, though it came with at least a touch of good fortune. Alcuin keeper Neil Lawrence received a bobbling back-pass inside the box, but his first touch failed to get the ball out of his feet. Wentworth’s Ciaran Lynch closed in, and although Lawrence got his kick in first, he could only blast it against the attacker, and it ricocheted straight into the Alcuin net. Alcuin’s first good chance came shortly before the half-hour mark. Andy Fernando’s excellent 30-yard free kick was excellently tipped onto the crossbar by Wentworth keeper Jon Cook. That save paid dividends five minutes later as Wentworth’s lead was doubled by winger Papoui, who put his disappointing miss from earlier in the game behind him, finding room on the edge of the box to drive a low shot into the corner of the goal, beyond Lawrence. Wentworth had two more chances to extend their lead before half-time. The first saw Dom Green blast a powerful shot across the face of goal, but wide of the far post. The second came courtesy of a Lawrence error, as he failed to connect with another clearance, but defender Sean Perera got in just ahead of Lynch to prevent a third.
In the second half, as the morning sun drifted behind the building clouds, there was no change in the pattern of the game. Wentworth, comfortable in their lead, never looked likely to relinquish it, despite a couple of decent Alcuin chances. The most notable came moments after the restart, a goalmouth scramble following a corner providing Alcuin with a few bites at the cherry but with no success. Green, the Wentworth talisman, proved to be a thorn in his opponents’ side with some great skill but lacked the finishing to go with it. His best effort was blocked on the line by Jack McConnell, guarding the near post from a corner. On another occasion, he set himself up on the volley with an audacious piece of skill but couldn’t apply the finish. Alcuin, trailing by two and needing something special to get back into the game, were unable to break down their opponents. It was Wentworth who looked more likely to score – which they did, before that effort was bizarrely chalked off. Oleg Benesch unleashed a shot just inside the near post from a narrow angle, beating Lawrence with the power of his strike. However, as Wentworth began to celebrate, the referee controversially submitted to protests that the ball had gone through the side netting. Wentworth’s reaction was more befuddlement than anger, but the game was already over as a contest.