The second JMU Journalism World Cup began with a victory for last year’s beaten finalists as Level 3 beat the Alumni 1-0 after a tight match at IM Marsh.
Iver Kleiven scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time and the third years held firm despite a second-half barrage from the old boys to book a place in March’s final.
Rain had threatened to postpone the opening games of the tournament but the pitch was deemed suitable for one match, with the other semi-final – Level 1 v Level 2 – called off. By kick-off, however, the weather was ideal for football and the Alumni approached the game in confident mood despite failing to score a goal in either of their games last year.
Target man Peter Schulz was drafted into the side from Denmark and Serafino Ingardia offered a touch of Italian flair, while former students Dan Burke, Andrew Ashcroft and John Mathews Junior added solidity to a side which featured many of the same players as last year.
Level 3 – led by Tom Broughton – had a youthful, organised side and that showed straight from kick-off. They dominated the early stages of the match as the Alumni, still finding their feet, struggled to make strides forward with the wind and slope against them.
Stephen Dickinson and Broughton formed a strong partnership
in midfield, while the pacy Kleiven was a constant creative outlet.
Chris Shaw’s Alumni side began to grow into the game though,
with Ashcroft beating the offside trap on several occasions
but failing to test goalkeeper Callum Reece.
Shaw himself came closest to opening the scoring with a firm
header from an outswinging corner but Reece clawed the ball
away before John Witherspoon completed the clearance.
Just as the Alumni were taking a hold on the encounter, Level
3 struck – Kleiven played himself through and showed great
composure after a mazy run to slot the ball past Danny Masters.
It was a blow for the Alumni and they had to weather a storm at the beginning of the second half as ringers Jeff McGlinchey and Brandon Cross helped keep them at bay while Level 3 tried to finish the game. Norwegian Kleiven forced a fantastic save out of Masters with a looping header from a corner.
The Alumni recovered, and with Level 3 seeming to tire more, the old boys began to put real pressure on the opposition goal. Lecturer John Mathews was combining well with Schulz and unselfishly chose to pass when in a goalscoring position but the chance was wasted. Several more shots were hit wide or over before Shaw went agonisingly close for a second time, seeing a 20-yard strike just miss the post.
The Alumni were playing four up front at this stage and in pushing forward to equalise, they left themselves open at the back. Alan Bond found himself clean through and poked the ball past Masters but saw his shot dribble wide.
Broughton audibly tried to rally his side for the final ten minutes as the Alumni launched a series of free-kicks into the box. One such free-kick was flicked on by Shulz and met by Burke, whose header beat Reece but the referee controversially ruled the goal out for offside.
With that, the Alumni knew it was not going to be their day and so it proved, as Level 3 held onto the 1-0 victory. They now await the winner of the second semi-final while the Alumni – who remain without a goal in JMU Journalism World Cup history - can only hope for a return next year.
By JMU Journalism Sport
JMU Journalism World Cup
Iver Kleiven struck the winning goal but the Alumni had a late equaliser cruelly ruled out (Pics Jill Mathews)
World Cup 2011
Level 3 1-0 Alumni
Level 1 v Level 2 (TBA)
Winner 1 v Winner 2
Games played at LJMU IM Marsh
JMU JOURNALISM WORLD CUP 2011