Second-division King’s I upset top-flight Robinson I with a thrilling 5-3 victoryAdair Bergin

Just ten years younger than the prestigious FA Cup, Cambridge’s Cuppers trophy returned in fine fashion over the Halloween weekend (29/10 to 31/10), with sixteen teams battling it out for victory and producing a spooky number of goals in the process.

Last year’s finalists, Homerton I, were in action against Downing I, Pembroke I hosted third-tier Christ’s I, and Robinson I travelled to face second-division King’s I, who reached the semi-final of the 2020-21 Cuppers. Queens’ I, Clare I, Trinity Hall I, and Trinity I all hosted Girton I, Peterhouse, Emmanuel I, and Jesus I respectively. Meanwhile, history was made as Lucy Cavendish fielded their first men’s team against Magdalene I, with it being the first year males have been admitted into the college.

Churchill I, Corpus Christi, Darwin I, Fitzwilliam I, Gonville & Caius I, Sidney Sussex I, and St John’s I all progressed automatically to the next round with BYEs. Selwyn I were unable to field a team against St. Catherine’s I, consequently handing the latter a default 3-0 win.

King’s 5 - 3 Robinson

In Sunday’s (31/10) 1:30pm kick off, King’s I hosted Robinson I at the King’s College Playing Fields.

Right from the first whistle, the home side had the majority of possession and the better chances on goal. King’s had much success down the right flank, doubling up on Robinson left-back Vissarion Christodoulou, who was constantly left exposed.

At the 30-minute mark, this constant pressure down the right yielded a goal from the outstanding Olav Sigmunsdstad. After latching on to a through ball, he executed an exquisite Ronaldo chop to leave the left-back in his wake and coolly curled the ball into the top left corner to kickstart the scoring.

The opening goal gave King’s even more drive, as they piled on the pressure and peppered Robinson keeper Tarush Bansal. The tactically astute 3-5-2 formation of King’s against Robinson’s 4-at-the-back facilitated the constant overloads down the flanks but the away side were able to sustain the pressure till the end of the first 45, leaving the score at 1-0.

The second half is where the game saw its goalscorers really firing on all cylinders. In the 47th minute, King’s number 11 Alfred Lawrence controlled a right-side cross in the six-yard box and smashed it into the left of the goal, with Bansal getting a soft hand to it but was unable to keep it out.

After the second goal, however, King’s seemingly dialed down the pressure or were maybe suffering from fatigue, as Robinson finally grew into the game. The away side were unlucky not to score in the 50th minute after a few goal-mouth scrambles.

But ten minutes later, Robinson launched the beginning of their comeback with midfielder Will Wakelam burying an unexpected left-foot strike from the edge of the box, sending the ball looping over the keeper and into the left side of the goal. In the 63rd minute, their quick-fire second came in the form of a penalty, which was slotted into the bottom right corner by Makafui Avevor with ease.

Flipping the game on its head, Robinson took the lead in the 82nd minute with a well-worked passage of play down the right-hand side resulting in a powerful strike from George Pugh to beat King’s keeper Joshua Bijoy at his near post.

In a late display of to and fro, King’s soon rescued the game with an equaliser, after a free kick dropped into the danger area produced some scrappy defending. The ball was eventually bundled over the line, with the goal being claimed by Joseph Vambe to send the matchup to extra time at 3-3.

The first fifteen minutes of the additional period was truly end-to-end football, with both sides missing clear-cut chances. But in the 100th minute, winger Lawrence claimed his brace by scoring from outside the box whilst surrounded by a swarm of yellow shirts, making it 4-3 to the hosts.

King’s did not stop there. In the second half, the man who initially broke the game’s deadlock, Sigmundstad, scored from a delightful through ball by Adair Bergin in midfield. He cleanly guided the ball into the bottom left corner to conclude the breathtaking tie at 5-3, shockingly knocking Robinson out of the tournament.

Player of the match: Olav Sigmundstad

King’s I: Joshua Bijoy, Chichi Okolo, Niall Kim, Matt McLoughlin, George Hendrikse, Fabrizio De Vito (C), Conall Murray, Jack Brisley, Olav Sigmundstad, Joseph Vambe, Alfred Lawrence

Substitutes: Sam Rudd-Jones, Adair Bergin, Diallo Williams

Robinson I: Tarush Bansal, Vissarion Christodoulou, Tom Paggett-Wright, Jamie Gammell (C), Alex Loan, Will Wakelam, Jack Barnes, Percy Verity, Makafui Avevor, George Pugh, Billy McGough

Substitutes: Ben Blunt, Andru Stefanescu

Pembroke 2 - 1 Christ’s

Sunday’s second fixture saw Premier League leaders Pembroke I take on division three side Christ’s I.

Following a fairly open start, a defensive mix-up from Pembroke presented Christ’s with a promising one-on-one, but after rounding the keeper the shot was scuffed and allowed defender Daniel Babalola to quickly clear the ball off the line.

Soon after, however, Christ's went ahead when Matt Harris gambled to get on the end of a cross at the near post by Matt van Schalkwyk, converting the assist with an emphatic header to put the underdogs 0-1 up.

After falling behind, Pembroke enjoyed more of the ball, as Christ's were happy to sit back in a flat back five and constrict the space around the box. But Christ's remained dangerous on the counter, nearly going two up after an audacious effort from Harris cannoned off the crossbar, as he beforehand spotted Pembroke keeper Cameron Keith off his line.

The visitors continued to defend resolutely and used the wind to their advantage, but Pembroke’s improved play was rewarded with a goal just before the break. Tele Agusto floated a free kick into the box that was met on the volley by fellow midfielder Ollie Reed with his back to goal, levelling the affair at 1-1.

In the second half, Pembroke were able to push Christ’s back even more, yet the opportunities they carved out with better link-up play were easily saved by goalie Barney Crawford. Christ’s continued to remain a threat when the ball was turned over, but apart from a couple of strikes from distance they didn’t directly trouble Keith’s goal.

With just under ten minutes to go, two Pembroke substitutes combined to win the game. Tom Dixon flicked on from a throw-in and Adian Liusie smashed it in from close range to secure passage into the next round.

Christ’s did manage to get one last chance just after the game resumed, as the ball bounced around and fell for an open shot, but Keith saved well. Pembroke were then able to see the game out and just about thwart a well-executed game plan from Christ's, who put on a solid performance against opposition that ply their trade two divisions above.

Player of the match: Matt Harris

Pembroke I: Cameron Keith, Will Holmes, Daniel Babalola, Matthew Hawthorn, Toby Parsloe, Tele Agusto (C), Oliver Reed, Gareth Morgan, Joseph Steane, Jack Seery, Sonny Mahendran

Substitutes: Josh O'Connell, Adian Liusie, Tom Dixon

Christ’s I: Barney Crawford, Tom Spencer, Jordan Smith, Oli Lewis, Stephan Stephanides, Alex Adderley, Cameron Bicknell (C), Matt Harris, Billy Howard, Matt Van Schalkwyk, Stanley Somogyi

Substitutes: Tom McManamon, Dan Little

Homerton 5 - 5 Downing AET (Homerton win 5 - 4 on penalties)

On a wind-strewn October afternoon, last year’s Cuppers finalists Homerton had to dig deep to overcome a spirited Downing side in a mesmerising footballing spectacle.

Homerton drew first blood in the eleventh minute when Blues vice-captain Louie Roberts, aided by the wind, curled in a free-kick from close to the halfway line.

This combination of individual brilliance and mischievous gale would then come back to haunt Homerton ten minutes later, as Downing captain Sam Healy equalised directly from an in-swinging corner that was somehow blown past the outstretched fist of Homerton keeper Alfie Davis.

Just before the half hour mark, Blues winger Brody Wooding’s tricks resulted in a treat for Downing as an optimistic 25-yard strike from distance found it’s way into the back of the Homerton net, putting the visitors 1-2 ahead.

Yet Homerton persisted, with captain Joe Lockhart leading by example from centre-back, constantly disrupting Downing’s rhythm with well-timed tackles and balls up to the formidable physical presences of Homerton strike pair Cyprian Kucaj and now-fit Kosi Nwuba.

The Homerton pressure paid off in the 38th minute as Louie Roberts, picking up the ball from thirty yards out, fired a ferocious shot into the top corner of the Downing net to level the scores going into half-time, as well as secure his brace.

Homerton looked the stronger team in the opening salvo of the second forty five minutes, with their midfield domination resulting in Downing striker Milo Lammin cutting an isolated figure up front.

Ten minutes into the second half, winger Haeden Johnson gave Homerton a 3-2 lead with a smart chop inside that left the Downing defence scrambling and resulted in a tidy finish past the keeper.

In the 71st minute, Downing had a big shout for an equaliser controversially ruled out as a free kick from Blues keeper turned Cuppers central midfielder Tim Wallace bounced off the underside of the bar and, with shades of Lampard’s ‘ghost goal’ in 2010, off the goal line and out again. Undeterred, Wallace attempted the same manoeuvre ten minutes later, with the familiar combination of skill and wind combining to put the ball in the Homerton net, taking the game to extra time.


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After the first fifteen minutes of extra time, the situation for Homerton looked bleak as Downing scored two in quick succession - the first a smart finish from Brody Wooding and the second an unfortunate Homerton own goal, making it 3-5 with a quarter of an hour to go.

With five minutes left to secure their position in the next round of Cuppers, Homerton received a lifeline in the form of a penalty, confidently tucked away by hat-trick hero Louie Roberts.

In a game of football this electrifying, it would almost be unjust if it didn’t go all the way to penalties. Thus, fate intervened in the form of Homerton’s Haeden Johnson, scoring in the 118th minute to take the score to 5-5 and the game to spot-kicks.

With Homerton’s destiny hanging in the balance, captain Lockhart transformed into Louis Van Gaal by bringing on Homerton and Falcons first-choice keeper Liam Matthews, currently sidelined with a fractured elbow, on for the shootout.

With Homerton missing their third out of five and Downing’s penalties looking nigh unstoppable, things looked dire for the Griffins until Matthews pulled off a crucial save to deny Brody Wooding, Downing’s fifth taker, to keep the hosts in the game.  

Substitute Vincent Martin stepped up confidently to hammer home Homerton’s sixth. Cruelly for Downing, captain Healy, excellent all game for the away side, hit the bar and confirmed the win for Homerton after a truly epic battle.

Player of the match: Louie Roberts

Homerton I: Alfie Davis, Torres Ng, Max Asseily, Joe Lockhart (C), Rony Chowdhry, Fred Sayer, Louie Roberts, Funto Coker, Haeden Johnson, Kosi Nwuba, Cyprian Kucaj

Substitutes: Noah Palombo, Folami Iyiola, Vincent Martin, Liam Matthews

Downing I: Frankie Merriman, Cody Roth, Jojo Jenner, Josh Sassoon, Hasan Al-Habib, Sam Healy (C), Lemuin Osei-Biney, Tim Wallace, Ren Iioka, Milo Lammin, Brody Wooding

Substitutes: Aleksander Misztal, Nick Granados, Robbie Smith

Other results

Queens’ 2 - 1 Girton

Clare 6 - 0 Peterhouse

Trinity 0 - 6 Jesus

Magdalene 3 - 4 Lucy Cavendish

Trinity Hall 0 - 0 Emmanuel AET (Trinity Hall win 5-4 on penalties)

See next round’s fixtures here.