A stunning four-goal second-half blitz by Leigh Kimmins sent Level 2 through to their first ever JMU Journalism World Cup Final after their 4-1 comeback victory left the third years reeling.
The graduating class, who have lost every game they have ever played in this tournament, led 1-0 at the break thanks to Luke Holliday’s opener but Kimmins broke Level 3’s collective spirits in a one-man demolition job at rain-soaked IM Marsh.
The third years, led by the impressive Josh Kelsall as captain, made much of the early running and were unlucky not to go ahead sooner as Matty Toker’s goalkeeping exploits kept them at bay. Geordie Holliday finally got the breakthrough as he found space in the box to turn and fire high past Toker from close range.
Torrential rain had a significant impact on proceedings and as the pitch deteriorated so did the quality of the football, with both sets of players struggling to keep their feet or possession. Level 3’s Dan O’Sullivan tied his own legs in knots trying to break the world ‘rabona’ record, while few students avoided sliding into the mud at some stage.
Level 2 got the equaliser when Kimmins sent a rising drive over the head of Kieran Etoria-King before the Newry giant grabbed his second via a crunching challenge which flew into the bottom corner after Level 3 failed to clear their lines.
The story could have been so different as the third years pressed hard for the goal which could force a penalty shoot-out and they very nearly got it when Holliday set-up skipper Kelsall on the edge of the box late on, but his side-footed effort was agonisingly finger-tipped onto the post by Toker.
Two sweet strikes in the space of as many minutes by Kimmins at the other end killed off their hopes though, ending a sequence of three successive seasons where the graduating class have won the competition.
On April 12, Level 2 captain Steven Carson will be hoping to neutralise the Alumni and get his hands on the famous JMU Journalism World Cup trophy, which was coincidentally sold by his own father to tournament officials two years ago.