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Glory ahead for St Peter’s?

Cal Flintoff reviews the drama of the Men’s Football Cuppers as the Quarters approach

Division Two side St Peter’s continue to blaze a bright green and yellow trail through the Cupper’s tournament this season, knocking out Premier Division opposition for a second consecutive round. They have reached the Quarter-Finals and earnt themselves a shot at downing the holders Worcester.

After toppling league leaders Catz in their own backyard in the first round, Peter’s travelled into the heart of Cowley to face Jesus College, again rating as underdogs away from home.

That they reigned victorious – in the process overturning a losing situation at the break to win 4-3 – has created a buzz about the side back home in Central Oxford.

Victory over Jesus, 4th in the top flight, leaves the side with 4 victories from 5 games this season. Just as importantly, they are in possession of a centre-forward in red-hot form: Owen Ace blitzed all 4 versus Jesus and has also added 3 more in a further 3 appearances.

There’s nothing quite like a cup run to bolster the bonds or summon the spirit within a team; it’s a fact that the college will know only too well after the recent exploits of their armoured rugby side, and a home tie only teases further the possibility of another giant-killing materialising.

Olly Cobb netted a hat-trick for Worcester. Ultimately, the team proved too strong for Brasenose in their second round encounter: a flurry of second-half goals against the Black and Gold takes their tally to 14 in this year’s edition and, ominously for their rivals, already eclipses their exploits in front of goal from the string of tight-fought encounters that took them to the title last season, despite the absence of Blues’ enforcer Sam Hale.

Worcester know what glory tastes like but you sense that St Peter’s are beginning to catch the scent. In the same half of the draw Exeter, benefactors of a first-round-bye, defeated St Anne’s 3-2 to move a step closer to an impressive triumvirate of back-to-back semi-final (albeit never finalists) appearances in the competition.

They face an austere assessment to get there however, as they take on leading contenders New College in a second successive all-Premier-Division tie for the Holywell Street outfit.

In their eagerly anticipated and well-hyped matchup, New consigned St John’s to a painful repeat second-round exit from the competition, prevailing through a sole goal from Tom McShane.

Captain Ben Gregory was keen to emphasise the financial disparity between clubs and praised the potential effect a lucrative TV windfall could have on the season ahead: “We all know John’s are well endowed, but I guess this just proves that money can’t buy happiness, or a gritty 1-0 Cuppers win at home.”

In the top half of the draw Christ Church remained unbeaten for the season, disposing 3-1 of a free-falling Balliol College side that are struggling to re-find the form that led them to the top of the pyramid in the festive period last year. Christ Church will travel to face Hertford, who edged past St Hilda’s 1-0 to earn their place in the Quarter-Final line-up.

The Catte Street College will face off against strong opposition, and a wealth of experience: of the 7 sides confirmed in the next round, 5 have reached the Semi-Finals at least once in the past two editions.

Within the same bracket Wadham remain the sole Premier Division side in contention after totally battering of St Hugh’s.

The light blue Cuppers’ veterans have the feel of a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde duality about them this season: regularly struggling with player availabilities and yet to claim a point in the league but displaying their full repertoire with merciless Cuppers results.

Centre-back Alex Coonar points to the effect their wide Merryfield home pitch has on their game, accentuating a style based on building fluidly from the back; indeed, Wadham are the only Premier Division side to boast a better home than away record in the past two seasons and, crucially the side have been handed a home Quarter-Final draw once more.

The identity of their opponents is yet to be decided as Teddy Hall and LMH face off at Uni Parks this Saturday. LMH have started the season in good form, finding themselves wedged between Hertford and St Peter’s in Division Two, but face up to the stat that since 2015 Teddy Hall have either won the competition (2017) or lost to the eventual Champions (2016, 2018).

“That’s the way people that don’t understand football analyse football, is with stats…”

The QuarterFinal round fixtures will now be scheduled, with the competition reach a climax next term.

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