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James make amends for Cup disappointment with Plate success

Goals from Richard Baxter and James Offord were enough to see James firsts win the College Plate, overcoming Derwent seconds 2-1

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Images: Philippa Grafton

James firsts were victorious in the final of the Plate competition today, beating Derwent seconds 2-1. A decisive goal from James Offord restored some sense of pride for a James side disappointed at not making the last eight of the Cup.

James took the initiative after the kick-off. Offord nearly fed dangerman Tom Clarke, and skipper Simon Mole found Clarke again, but both opportunities came to nothing. Derwent's first attempt came from Conor Scanlan, a header that was sent over.

The seconds team did not look out of their depth against their opponents and took the game to James. Matt Jenkins' big throws were a constant menace, and Jon Garness - after receiving a great ball from Matt Worsfold - almost provided the opening for Derwent, only for his shot to go sailing over when he should have done better.

James took control of the majority of possession as the first half wore on, but could not get enough balls into the danger areas. As it was a number of shots were taken from long range and failed to threaten. They were more successful from set pieces, however, and Richard Baxter provided the first goal when he headed in at the far post a Tom Clarke corner. 1-0 at half time.

The second half started with a replay of the end of the first. Again a Clarke corner found Baxter, but this time his header was cleared off the line by Will de Silva. Derwent pounced on the break and Garness could have added to his considerable tally in the College Cup were it not for the ball from James Mathews being overhit.

Back down the other end, the impressive Richard Baxter fed through Josh Brownlow who, despite being under pressure, got his shot away only for it to be well kept out by Derwent goalkeeper Krishna Yellappa. James kept the pressure on and were rewarded when Offord showed great skill to dance his way in from the right side of the box and strike it past Yellappa to make it 2-0 to James.

Derwent, however, stuck to their task. Mathews judged his curling ball from the right to perfection and all Garness had to do at the far post was cushion it in to claw back one goal for the boys in blue and black. Garness' goal, his thirteenth of the tournament, lifted his side and provided an avenue back into the match.

Perhaps worried by the prospect of an underdog fairytale, James pushed hard to secure a third. Sam Mellor sent in a delightful ball which Clarke got his head on to, but Yellappa did well to just push it wide. The resultant corner was cleared by a committed Derwent defence, of which one of the standout performances came from captain Ric Morris, who did well to win a few tussles with Clarke and prevent him from being as effective as he could have been.

With ten minutes remaining Derwent pushed hard. Jenkins lofted in a fine ball, again seeking Garness at the far post, but Oscar Lynch was there to put it out. The danger was not over, however, and Mathews' corner ball in found Jim Norton who was able only to header it wide. The final touch proved elusive to Derwent as the last throw of the game - again from Jenkins - was claimed by James goalkeeper Sam Clitheroe. Derwent fought hard but the loss meant both Derwent teams walked away from their respective finals on the wrong side of the result.

While this was may not have been the game James captain Simon Mole dreamed of winning today, he could not fault the performance of his team: "I have to praise our attitude. We could have been disheartened after not making the Cup, but we did what we needed to do here by winning every game". Derwent skipper Ric Morris was similarly happy with his side's play, saying, "We came up against a strong team. We gave it everything, and played well, but came up just short".

James firsts: Sam Clitheroe, Nick St. George, Oscar Lynch, Matt Bainbridge, Sam Mellor (George Clarke), Richard Baxter, Simon Mole (Johnny Hyde), Angus O'Brien, Josh Brownlow, James Offord, Tom Clarke

Man of the match: Oscar Lynch

Derwent seconds: Krishna Yellappa, Matt Jenkins, Ric Morris, Aris Moro, Matt Worsfold (Liam Fripps), Barnaby Francis, Conor Scanlan (Alex Nock), Wil de Silva, James Mathews, Jon Garness, Jim Norton

Man of the match: James Mathews

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