Babcock prepares to launch a Caius attackJonny Coffey

Fitzwilliam and Gonville and Caius are set for a replay next weekend after Saturday’s (18/02) semifinal stalemate in the Men’s Football Cuppers. A last-gasp Lumi Kanwei equaliser spared Fitz blushes, keeping hopes of a seventh-consecutive Cuppers victory alive. With Pembroke awaiting the winner in the final, and this weekend’s bitter contest fresh in their minds, both sides will be relishing a high-stakes rematch.

A stormy day at Oxford Road set the tone for a contest clouded by officiating controversy and flaring tempers. As bullish defending silenced uninspired attacking play at both ends, the game descended into a hoof-off between Fitz centre-back Jake Parish and Caius’s Tom Burke. Fine margins separated the two, but Burke may have had the edge on style points, with his Nadal-esque grunts winning acclaim from Caius ultra Conor Beale.

Fitz dominated the early phases through the assured midfield play of Tom Randall and Cassidy Ashworth. Right-winger Sonny McPherson almost claimed an opener minutes in, bearing down on an open net after the Caius keeper had rushed out and failed to claim the ball. Only an outstanding recovery tackle from Charlie Wilson denied the Fitz winger.

“Burke may have the edge on style-points, with his Nadal-esque grunts winning acclaim from Caius ultra Conor Beale.”

With Wilson’s tackle setting the standard, Caius became more aggressive in their defending, pressing high and disrupting Fitz’s possession. As both sides resorted to the long-ball, Caius looked the more threatening. In the first of several contentious officiating calls, the visitors had a goal disallowed for offside. This was a sign of things to come, and Caius followed up with the opener. Attacking the near post, Ben Adam connected with a James Wiseman corner, powering a header into the top-left corner. A nervy remainder of the half produced little action, but controversy flared once more as Kanwei was denied a penalty, having gone down under the challenge of Burke.

“Agonisingly, his curling effort fizzed past the post.”

Fitz improved in the second half, buoyed by the inventive attacking play of Asa Campbell. The left-winger almost produced a superb equaliser, taking down a Parish long-ball on the edge of the box, flicking it over his defender, and shaping up to find the far corner. Agonisingly, his curling effort fizzed past the post. The home side continued to press but couldn’t unlock the Caius defence. Commanding centre-back play from Tom Burke and Ollie Babcock subdued an energised Kanwei while Ben Adam wreaked havoc higher up the pitch.


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However, with desperation sinking in, Fitz scrapped their way to a last-gasp equaliser. A low-driven cross ricocheted around the box before finding Kanwei, who prodded home from close range.

Fitz then almost found a winner at the death, with their best attacking sequence of the game. Campbell shifted into the left-half space, opening up the flank for a surging Kanwei. Charging past the Caius full-back and into the box, the forward opened up to find the far corner, but sent his effort whiskers wide.

Varsity Player of the Match: Tom Burke (Gonville and Caius)