Level 1 drew first blood in the inaugural JMU Journalism World Cup with a 2-0 win against Level 3 at a sun-kissed IM Marsh on Sunday.
A goal in each half secured the victory in a pulsating yet sporting encounter, which was a credit to both sides. Hugh Currell opened the scoring with a cool finish from close range, and Vegard Grott bundled the ball home for the second after bursting forward from defence.
Level 3 must win their next fixture against their second year counterparts if they are to keep alive their slim hopes of lifting the trophy.
The opening exchanges were scrappy with nervousness shown from both sides. Level 1 eventually settled into their rhythm and began to keep possession well, moving the ball out of defence and up to the forward pairing of Tom Cunningham and loan signing Luke Richardson.
The deadlock was broken after ten minutes when a long ball out
of defence found Currell unmarked and clean through on goal.
His low finish beat goalkeeper Danny Masters and found the
corner of the net.
The third years rallied and began to threaten, with captain Gary
Maiden prominent in midfield. They were unable to translate their
possession into goals however, with lone striker John Mathews
often appearing isolated, and in need of support from his
Level 1 should have added to their lead before the break but
keeper Masters made an excellent block to keep out Richardson.
The second half was barely five minutes old when the Level 1
lead was doubled. The move started in their own box as
Norwegian defender Grott strode forward purposefully. He
played the ball out wide before continuing his run into the box.
An excellent cross found him unmarked six yards out and he
scored at the second attempt.
Level 3 were unlucky not to get the goal their efforts deserved
as Padraig McGarrigle saw his vicious volley crash against the crossbar and away to safety after a perfectly delivered free-kick by Mathews.
Play became stretched as fatigue set in on both sides, and possession was changing sides regularly. Good approach play was also often let down by a disappointing final ball or wayward finishing.
Hugh O’Connell provided a rare highlight for the third years with a bizarre pitch-eating tumble under a particularly heavy challenge. Onlookers instantly nicknamed his heroically awkward fall ‘The Scorpion’, though TV replays later showed the Irishman looked more like he was breakdancing.
For the first years, Trondur Arge gave Faroe Islands coach Brian Kerr plenty to think about in his next squad selection, while David Downie also had an outstanding game at the back, despite complaining that the pitch was “as big as an airport”.
A frantic final few moments saw both teams fail to convert chances, and the scoreline remained unchanged at the end. Level 1 had secured a famous victory, which has seen them installed as the tournament favourites.
A special word of thanks goes to Steve Grace and the groundsman at IM Marsh for the use of the excellent pitch and facilities.
The next match is Level 2 v Level 1, with the date and time to be announced soon.
By Liam Deveney, Sports Reporter
World Cup 2010
Level 1 2-0 Level 3
Level 1 v Level 2 (TBA)
Level 2 v Level 3 (TBA)
W L D F A Pts
Level 1 1 0 0 2 0 3
Level 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Level 3 0 1 0 0 2 0
Level 1 2-0 Level 3 in pictures
Hugh Currell opens the scoring for Level 1; Dermot Milton outpaces Trondur Arge (Pictures by Jill Mathews)
Level 1: JMU Journalism World Cup 2010
Level 3: JMU Journalism World Cup 2010