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Revolution Premier League
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James' title hopes suffered a significant blow as Vanbrugh soared to an unexpected, albeit deserved, victory. With both sides missing numerous key players, it was Vanbrugh who were much the better side for the majority of the game and, therefore, were good value for their 4-1 victory. Vanbrugh's Andy Miller notched a hat-trick for his side while James were left to bemoan their lack of substitutes as they were reduced to ten men following an injury to Ralph Gill in the second half.
However, it was James who first made an impression on the game as Matt Hosier latched onto a through ball but he could only drag his shot wide of the target. Vanbrugh were quick to respond as captain Joe Lund played in Troy Carruther's who's subsequent cross stung the finger tips of James' keeper. It became apparent that James were dropping deep all too often, therefore inviting Vanbrugh pressure. It was an invitation Vanbrugh were keen to accept as Fred Franklin harried James captain Mandeep Sangha into relinquishing possession before slotting a neat pass through to Adam Lewis, but he could only fire over.
Despite this, James' Andrew Jopson could have snatched the lead for his side as he rattled the post with Vanbrugh's keeper, Max Donell-Ford, rooted to the spot. In what was a frantic few minutes, Vanbrugh sprung on the counteract and this time it was James' post that was trembling. Andriy Tabas jinxed majestically past a series of rather tame James challenges but, with the goal at his mercy, he could only find the post.
It need not have mattered, however, as soon Vanbrugh had the lead they deserved. Kieran Paulas rose highest at the back post and, despite having his initial header blocked, followed up with a precise strike into the net. James appeared shellshocked and were soon two goals behind when Andy Miller broke ranks to slide his shot past the keeper. It was a difficult end to the half for James with Vanbrugh clearly in the ascendancy. Try as they might, James failed to mount any notable attack and trudged somewhat dejectedly off at the break.
Matters only worsened for luckless James after Ralph Gill appeared to turn an ankle and was, therefore, unable to continue. The numerical disadvantage immediately impacted upon the game as Vanbrugh stole a march on their opponents with one particular effort from Matt Polts highlighting the one sided nature of the match. It was no surprise when a third followed again courtesy of Miller. This time, a defence splitting pass by Lund sent Miller bearing down on goal and he nonchalantly found the net. While James appealed for offside, their protests were ultimately in vain. At this stage, there seemed little way back for the title challenges
This was confirmed soon after when Miller completed his hat-trick after neat play on the edge of the area. He then struck a low drive into the corner of the net with James appearing to have capitulated. By this time, Tabas was now controlling the game in his unfamiliar midfield position with James, meanwhile, failing to come to terms with the fluidity of Vanbrugh's attacking play. Jopson forced home a consolation goal in the final stages of the game to provide some cheer in what was generally a disappointing performance for James. The final game of the season for James now holds all the more significance as anything other than a loss to Derwent firsts will surely see their rivals claim the title for a second consecutive term.
After the game Vanbrugh captain Joe Lund spoke to Nouse saying, "We haven't been playing well recently, not just losing but playing badly. Today was completely different. We were short of players so we had to go four four two and I was a bit worried that they might overrun the midfield but Adam and Andy upfront worked really hard and we didn't give them much time on the ball."
He continued to praise his team's efforts by saying, "They [James] tried to play it out from the back but it didn't work for them. I know they played with ten men for some of the second half but we were already winning and I am really pleased with how we played. I played Andriy who is normally a left back at centre midfield and he played incredible."
Meanwhile, James captain Mandeep Sangha was disappointed with his team's performance saying, "we were awful today. I think we were missing nine players of which six play in either the uni ones or the uni twos so that is over half our team."
He continued to commend Vanbrugh by saying, "At the end of the day we both started with eleven and they were two nil up when we had eleven. We weren't in the game at all and they deserved to win so fair play to Vanbrugh. They did the basics very well and won the first and second balls and they wanted it far more than us."
Vanbrugh (4-4-2): Donnell-Ford (GK); Glanvill, Brennan, Paulas, Franklin; Polts, Tabas, Carruthers, Lund (C); Lewis, Miller.
James (4-5-1): Allen (GK); Sangha (C), Elliott, McCormick, Axford; Clarkson, Gill, Jobbling, Lawson, Hosier; Jopson.
Man of the Match: Andriy Tabas