Image Credit: James Moultrie
THE TOP FOOTBALL sides for James and Constantine college were up against each other in the penultimate Division 1 fixture of the week.
The last time these two sides met, it ended 9-1 to James; today’s matchup was quite the opposite. A classic game of two halves, the former going to James and the latter being confidently in favour of Constantine. The result reflects the nature of the match very fairly, but chances did go begging for both sides and the score could’ve easily been 5-5.
It was a tentative start, typical of Division 1, with both talented sides trying to figure each other out. With little space to operate in, James 1s adopted a counter attacking style of play, most likely to support their fast wingers, who were constantly making runs down the flanks. Finn Lacey was looking threatening down the left wing, so much so, that he forced Constantine captain Barney Blackwell to make a change at right back, to account for the extra pace of the winger.
Both sides’ no. 14s were controlling the attacking play and Constantine’s Emmanuel Ogunbiyi was holding the ball up nicely, with constant touches of his chest from goal kicks. James’ no. 14 was Lacey, who put away the earliest clear-cut chance of the match. The ball was laid off to him and he smashed it through the hands of Luke Osbourne, who had proved quite the shot stopper up to this point. Good persistence from James' proved too much in the early stages of this game.
To this point, James looked the more threatening team, Lacey the obvious highlight, but also Norwood on the opposing wing to him, who’s great footwork was causing some issues for the Constantine right side.
James’ defence had given them this strong platform, with Jamie Bristow mainly picking up loose balls and driving out of his own final third. Constantine were looking for spaces, but the deep line forced former captain Tom Guffick into a long range effort. Which looked to be going wide (purely off of the James' keepers decision to not move) but it subsequently rebounded off the crossbar.
The half ended with another sign of quality from Guffick, who profited from good pressing on the right wing, and smashed in a half volley from outside the box to level the match just before the half. Blackwell started getting frustrated at some of his defensive line for sitting and not going to the attackers. The early threat of pace had had a lasting effect on the full backs.
James’ pressure eventually translated into purchase, where poor defending meant the goal keeper was questionably taken out while trying to collect a cross, and while on the floor, a James midfielder smashed the ball passed the defender who was guarding the line. It seemed to be a foul, simply from the state Osbourn was left in, but as college football normally goes, who's ever that sure?
However, this was the last convincing hold the James College side really had on the game, the goal itself coming against the run of play, with Constantine’s team now winning the midfield battle. Counter attacks did come in numbers for the side in Black, but no one seemed to be able to apply the finishing touches. Sitters went begging as their sharp attackers lost some of their quality in the latter stages.
The final goal of the match came from Constantine, to level it up at 2-2.Waheed Kalungi, who had just came on as a substitute, calmly placed the ball into the bottom corner to equalise. Following more pressure from Guffick and Nicholas in the final third. The latter of which would of been relieved, given how minutes earlier he had sliced a volley which he ideally would've converted to put his side back at 2-2.
Both sides missed easy chances in the final 15 minutes; tired legs on a very cold afternoon playing a huge factor. James had a few more clear cut on the counter attack, but Constantine had more control over the possession and were more physically fit than their opponents (three of which were down on their haunches every time a chance was missed).
It proved to be a very good game of football on a cold 3G. Both sides will look to do better in their upcoming Division 1 games, but Constantine will probably be the more pleased of the two on this occasion- given how many freshers were in their team, and the result in the last meeting.