Cuppers semi-final victory for men’s football team

by Rachel Smith

The men’s football team were victorious in the recent Cuppers semi-final match against Jesus College.

For a second consecutive match they won in a dramatic penalty shoot-out. The team’s captain, Mark Bittlestone (2012), reports:

10157355_640469982709302_5464290364696273727_n‘Pembroke went into the match on the back of a harrowing 5-1 thrashing in the league at the hands of Selwyn. That said, in the cup there was great belief in the side after a run that had seen the team come from 2-0 behind against Peterhouse, defeat Trinity 6-5 in the last minute of normal time and knock Darwin out on penalties after coming from behind at 3-2 in extra time. The drama and excitement that has dogged PCAFC throughout the cup this season did not abandon them on a freezing Saturday afternoon. Both teams were forced to warm up with snow falling thickly around their boots and the match only narrowly avoided being postponed. Pembroke started the better side, with Tom Ogier’s vicious cross going straight in at the back post on about the 20 minute mark. Concerted pressure brought Pembroke a scrappy second with David Ifere putting the ball into an empty net just ten minutes later. Jesus rallied, however, and after a decent spell converted a three-on-one to make the score 2-1 to Pembroke at half time.

‘Both sides began the second half with intent, with neither gaining the upper hand in early exchanges. Seemingly from nowhere Ifere popped up with a goal from range for Pembroke, making the score 3-1 after 60 minutes. Jesus, Cuppers champions and with their perennial League 1 pedigree, were not going to roll over easily. 25 minutes of the kitchen sink being hurled at Pembroke saw two goals turned in by Jesus, one from a low cross and one from a brilliant low free-kick by Preye Crooks. The exertions of normal time made the extra period a scrappy affair, with players going down regularly for cramp and a few half-chances at corners being missed wide. The chance to finish the game fell to Jesus after Crooks won a penalty in the 120th minute. Much to Pembroke’s delight this hit the post and the referee blew the whistle.

‘After more heroics from between the sticks by Pembroke keeper Banthorpe, Ambrogio Pistoja kept a cool head to blast the winning penalty into the roof of the net and wheeled away in delight, with Pembroke winning the shootout 3-1. Another year, another Cuppers final beckons for PCAFC.’

The final will be held on Friday 13th February. Kickoff is at 7pm at CURUFC, Grange Road. Everyone is welcome to come and support the team as they take on St John’s College.

This is the second year in a row that Pembroke have reached the Cuppers final, but they have never yet won the competition.