Semi-finals (noon kick-offs):
Alumni 1-3 Level 3
Level 1 v Level 2 - Sun March 25
Games played at LJMU IM Marsh
Final: date TBC
Level 3 v Winner SF 2
Defending champions Level 3 staged a remarkable recovery in more ways than one, as they came from a goal behind to reach their third straight JMU Journalism World Cup Final after beating the Alumni team 3-1.
The Alumni side took the lead when lecturer John Mathews scored their first goal in tournament history with a precision finish, but a long-range effort by Matt Powell levelled the scores before half-time, and a second half double by Hugh Currell gave Level 3 victory.
For Currell, it was a bittersweet occasion, as he was supported at Aigburth's IM Marsh campus by partner Isabelle and their nine-week-old daughter, Millie. Mercifully, Hugh's baby girl is too young to ever remember the distressing, though highly theatrical, sight of her father being sick into pitchside bushes as the pace proved too much for him in the early phase of the game.
Level 3 were the stronger of the two teams on the day, and they looked destined to go ahead but for the fabulous saves of Alumni goalkeeper and JMU Journalism Founding Editor, Dan Burke.
Time and again, heroic defender Jeff McGlinchey and
'keeper Burke frustrated Level 3's strikers, and it was
against the run of play when Alumni forged ahead with
what some veterans described as one of the JMU
Journalism World Cup's best-ever goals.
L3 skipper Liam Deveney could only watch in horror
as his step-son Daryl Williams charged into the penalty
area for Alumni and squared it to Mathews, who
instinctively clipped the ball first-time, up and over the
despairing dive of 'keeper Dan Grace.
It was a champagne moment for Alumni, after finding
the net for the first time in three years of this illustrious
competition, but the celebrations fell flat when Matt
Powell sprinted towards the box and unleashed an
unstoppable low drive past Burke.
Gary Maiden missed a glorious chance to restore
Alumni's lead before the interval when he stooped
low and looped a close-range header over the crossbar.
Midfield battles between 2011 graduate Stephen Dickinson and Level 3's Trondur Arge and Adam Smith were entertaining to watch, with some full-blooded tackles practically shaking the turf. Vegard Grott, physical and 'committed' as ever, had a series of penalty shouts turned down before the referee finally gave him his wish after he stumbled over the legs of Alumni captain Chris Shaw.
Currell, fully refreshed after his first-half nightmare, coolly despatched the penalty to make it 2-1, then finished off Alumni when he bundled the ball in off Burke, who appeared to have it under control until he dropped and fumbled it just inside the post.
Deveney and Mathews will both be disappointed by late misses at either end, but Level 3, who are aiming for their third JMU Journalism World Cup title in a row, deserved their victory.
They will face the winners of the Level 1 v Level 2 semi-final, which will be played on Sunday March 25.
By JMU Journalism Sport
More JMU Journalism stories
World Cup 2012 in pictures
Shaw and Maiden congratulate Mathews (centre) on his goal; Currell (left) scored twice for Level 3
World Cup 2012