Third years power into World Cup Final

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The third years banished the memories of previous defeats as they stormed into the JMU Journalism World Cup Final with a convincing and emphatic 4-1 win against the first years.

Pictures by John Mathews

Pictures by John Mathews

To say Level 3 looked just like Barcelona is no exaggeration because they were playing in Barcelona shirts, and they wore those famous striped jerseys with distinction. Goals by Ryan McCann, Rory Kelly, Jonathan Bridge and Adam Davies saw off Level 1 on their tournament debut.

Having lost all their past matches, Level 3 had just one more chance to claim a JMU Journalism World Cup victory before they graduate this year and the semi-final success at the IM Marsh campus was well deserved.

Weekly training sessions paid dividends against a side only just finding their feet in this annual spectacular, and Level 3 dominated from early on.

Captain Rory Kelly looked certain to open the scoring in the 15th minute and would surely have broken the deadlock but for a last-ditch crunching tackle by Level 1 defensive colossus Billy McClure, who had an outstanding game at the back.

JMU Journalism World Cup semi-final 2013 Level 3 v Level 1

Ryan McCann and Josh Kelsall both scored in the first half

Five minutes later and the third years got their reward for persistent pressure as McCann volleyed home past Level 1 goalkeeper and skipper, Kieran Etoria-King. Recovering admirably, the first years then settled down and played some of their best football with Luke Holliday looking menacing on the left wing.

Just before half-time, the first years were given an opportunity to equalise when Norwegian dynamo Eivind Haugstad-Kleiven handled in the box. Josh Kelsall, who earlier saw his curling free-kick tipped over by Joel Richards, made no mistake from the penalty spot and the teams went into the break on level terms.

Rookie Ben Matthews came perilously close to slicing into his own net soon after the restart but Level 3 did not have to wait long to restore their advantage and captain Kelly managed it in fine style with a thundering drive from 25 yards out.

Moustache problems for Arild Skjaeveland

Moustache problems for Arild Skjaeveland

Jonny Bridge claimed the third with a sprinting solo surge from the halfway line, then Arild Skjaeveland smashed the ball back off the first years’ post from a glorious position, perhaps distracted by his new Steve Heighway moustache.

The first years, featuring Kaltun Abdillahi who became only the second female to feature in JMU Journalism World Cup history, were still in the running until a fourth goal – with more than a hint of offside about it – ended their comeback hopes.

Paul Collins, who had shown some fine comedic touches in the first half, made amends for tackling his own players with a defence-splitting pass which Davies converted despite looking suspiciously grateful that there was no linesman’s flag available to wave for a free-kick.

Level 3 now face either the Alumni or Level 2, who will meet in the second semi-final at IM Marsh on March 17th. Weather permitting, the final is due to take place at the same venue a week later on Sunday March 24th.