On a windy afternoon at Bridgwater & Taunton College, Team BTC and Oaklands College took to the field for the English Colleges FA Premier National Cup Quarter finals.
Both sides started brightly and for a period cancelled each other out. However, a delightful ball from skipper Harry Durant released Sully McKenna to get beyond his marker. McKenna burst forward and delivered a nice ball for Gabe Plant, who struck well at the far post. The keeper was equal to the effort, but Olly Chubb made a timely run to finish the loose ball as the keeper tried to parry away 1-0.
The game was well contested, and the visiting Oaklands College team replied after a second phase of an attack arguably could have been dealt with 1-1. This seemed to shake a few players into a more appropriate focus and Team BTC regained the general edge.
Before the interval, BTC won a free kick wide from a good passage of play. The quick free kick from Durant gave Brad Pfupa time on the ball to size up his options, and he did this well, sending in an excellent effort over the scrambling keeper to regain the lead 2-1.
In the second period, Team BTC were tasked with controlling the centre better as our visitor’s midfield was strong and well drilled. Lewis Smith, Acey Mead, Chubb and Plant stepped it up and met the challenge. Our visitors posed a few issues when looking to go longer, but the wind took several of their searching passes too far and out. We had chances through Callum Chivers persistence, Mead being busy around the box and the full-backs getting forward, Josh Hurford and Pfupa.
A few changes were made to maintain the energy levels and control, which brought about the desired results. Lewis Jennings tied up the tricky Oakland winger, and Alex Parsons posed problems for two strong centre-backs. Chivers could revert outside to his normal position again as Plant added steel to the midfield.
In no time, Team BTC were knocking on the door again, winning several corners from positive play. For one such corner, McKenna put a far post delivery for Parsons to intelligently put the ball back across the box, where Mead to pounced to head home 3-1. Not finished, and with good defensive shape provided by Jake Dennis, Durant and Nathan Dimond, who was composed in goal, the side dovetail this to excellent forward momentum. Moments later some interchanging play between Smith, Parsons and McKenna led to the latter sliding an inch-perfect pass for Mead to break the visitor’s defensive line. Timing his run in on goal, Mead finished with confidence 4-1.
Joe Keaney, Lewis Neenan and Ryan Hibbert then came on and effectively maintained the good levels of play their teammates had achieved. Before the end, Hibbert almost got on the scoresheet himself with an illusive run and strike hitting the post.
Team BTC football coach Mo Hopkins said
A well-earned victory which takes Team BTC into the semi-finals of the ECFA Premier Cup. We were really pleased with the level of intensity from the players. The spirit in the team was superb, and the players were equally as effective off the ball as on it. We look forward to the next game, especially as it will provide the players with another valuable occasion to test their skill.