Loughborough Football 2-0 IMS All-Stars
By Joe Lynskey
Loughborough Football showed their class and strength in depth today on what was the last game ever to be played on Cayley One, as they put in an assured and quality display to overcome the IMS All-Stars 2-0.
A tough tackling and enforcing central midfield display laid the foundations for an all too one-sided game that was controlled throughout by Loughborough, though the game proved a great opportunity for several IMS players to stake their claim for a place in the University set-up next year.
In truth, it could have been any number of goals for the select Football XI, playing in a sparkling Gold, who spurned several chances in a game that the All-Stars struggled to find their feet in right from the first whistle.
On a grey and overcast day it looked as if the morning showers, though they had done wonders for the playing surface, had put off many spectators from watching the game. However as play went on a healthy number of avid football fans flocked to see the biggest game on the Loughborough football calendar, many of whom wanting to see a win for the plucky IMS underdogs, who donned a sharp sky-blue and white striped kit based on an old William Morris shirt design.
It looked as if it wasn’t going to be Loughborough’s day early on, as Tino Tarawali, recently called up to the Sierra Leone under 20s side, was withdrawn through injury after an innocuous tackle.
His replacement Liam Dunphy impressed on arrival with a quick breakaway down the right hand side on 13 minutes.
A one-two with Sam Shorrocks, Loughborough’s all-time most capped player, and a first time cross evaded all the defenders and presented a guilt-edged chance for Tom Hue, who despite a great first touch, spooned his shot over the bar on the greasy surface.
Hue and Denphy continued to impress on the wings and torment the IMS fullbacks.
The left sided Hue combining with captain James Aldred at left back to swing in another dangerous cross, only for Denphy coming in after a scramble to hit a blistering shot against the post and straight back into the fortunate arms of Butler Court goalkeeper Danny Lowton.
The merciless full back and winger combinations from the Golds were too much for IMS full backs Shield and O’Brien to deal with, along with the strength of target man Alex Robinson up front.
A break from nippy full-back Aldred could have brought the first goal on 24 minutes as his shot from the six yard area was blocked low by Lowton’s legs.
From the resulting corner IMS defender Pat Yates made the first of his day’s many important defensive blocks to save his side, in a performance from the centre half that will surely lead him on to great things in the Loughborough side next year.
The All-Stars were barely getting a sniff of goal up front, and the Loughborough pressure finally tolled on their defence on 33 minutes.
More great work from Hue and Aldred on the left hand side provided a deep cross that went all the way through to Dunphy, whose cut-back scrambled its way through to Dan Delderfield in acres of space, his placed shot slotted past the on rushing defenders into the right corner from eight yards to put the Golds 1-0 up, the goal greeted by a chorus of groans from an optimistic All-Stars crowd.
From there on in the All-Stars were run ragged, spending the following 10 minutes of the half counting down desperately for the half time whistle, and an onslaught of pressure from Loughborough could have put the game to bed even before the 45 minutes were up.
A Parry free-kick was played straight to Dunphy who ghosted into the box through some slack defending to poke wide from 7 yards. Then in the best move of the first half, again coming down the left hand side, an Aldred pass was touched delicately by Robinson into the path of Delderfield, who was denied his second goal of the game by a fingertip save by Lowton, the ball bouncing agonisingly onto the post.
If the All-Stars thought they’d been given a slice of luck with that miss they were given the whole loaf on 43 minutes when after a seemingly innocuous push on Robinson from a corner the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. There were few complaints from the All-Stars, but Jamie Aldred stepped up to drag the penalty yards wide of the left post.
The miss brought a lift to the All-Stars, and they created their best opening of the half two minutes later, as a free-kick whipped in by Brooks was put right on to the head of an unmarked Pat Yates, but he failed to get enough contact on the ball to steer it in.
It was a guilt-edged opportunity spurned by the All-Stars to go in at half-time level, despite for the most part being utterly dominated in the half by the Loughborough XI.
As the second half got underway the All-Stars began brightly with Callum Leslie-Draper, a player ear-marked to be their key hope of getting something from the game prior to kick-off, curling a half chance over the bar from the edge of the area after some nice work by Freshney on the left.
The Stripes’ defence even looked to be more assured coming back from the break, but they were dealt a killer blow on 55 minutes in very unlucky circumstances.
As Denphy collected the ball on the right hand side from a throw in, his half volleyed cross looped off the leg of O’Brien, only to dip right under the cross-bar.
Goalkeeper Lowton was left with a red face after a terrible misjudgement which saw him palm the ball straight over the line and into the net. 2-0 to Loughborough and the All-Stars seemingly killed off and made to rue the chance they spurned in stoppage time in the first half.
As the game went on several substitutions followed and the All-Stars continued to be left helpless up front. Any space or opportunities they did get going forward were ruined by greediness on the ball from Birch and Freshney or poorly timed runs by strikers Gabriel Ali and sub Ben Gerner, who were caught offside far too often.
Loughborough closed out the game with several more half chances and an immovable defensive unit.
Substitute Luke Griffths hit the post with a sliding connection from six yards out after more great dribbling work from Hue, Hill had a header from the back post beat wide by a disheartened Lowton, and dominant central midfielder Ben Parry lashed a shot over the bar.
The All-Stars had a second guilt edged opportunity in second half stoppage time, this time to grab a consolation, again coming from a free-kick. Substitute Mark O’Connell drilled a terrific ball in to the box only for Ben Gerner to skew his header well wide.
In all, it was a frustrating afternoon for the All-Stars, but a dominating display of talent from the Loughborough Football XI, who lifted the trophy presented by Imago once again, and give the Cayley One pitch the magnificent send-off it deserves.
Loughborough Football XI:
GK: Sam Moore – 7 : Rarely troubled aside from crosses and long shots which he dealt with comfortably and assuredly.
RB: Sam Shorrocks – 7 : Asserted himself with some ferocious tackling right from the first whistle.
CB: Josh Hill – 8 : A solid display, gave the IMS forwards not as much as a sniff at goal.
CB: David Wright – 7 : Confident and assured, though rarely troubled in the air.
LB: James Aldred (C) – 9 : A terrific all-round full-back display. A threat going forward and a tough-tackling defensive approach. Will rue the penalty miss.
RM: Liam Dunphy – 8 : A threat throughout on either side and key assists for both goals.
CM: Ben Parry – 8 : Tenacious tackling and quality distribution set the Golds on their way to several attacks.
CM: Jack Beckett – 8 : A resolute defensive midfield display stopped either of the IMS centre-mids getting a creative foothold in the middle.
LM: Tom Hue – 9* : A majestic performance on the wing from Hue, who tore apart the IMS full backs whichever side he played on. Unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.
AM: Dan Delderfield – 9 : A tireless and tricky display capped with the opening goal. His free role just behind the striker made it difficult for the IMS defenders to get near him.
ST: Alex Robinson – 8 : Strong and powerful up front. A key part in the build-up of several of the Golds’ opportunities, even though he rarely tested the keeper himself.
SUBS: Fongho (56 Wright) 7; Green (56 Beckett) 7; Griffths (60 Robinson) 7; Pugh (65 Shorrocks) 7
GK: Danny Lowton – 6 : Made a terrific fingertip save in the first half but struggled with the wet conditions. His game will unfortunately be remembered for the error that led to the second goal.
RB: Jamie Shield – 7 : Looked a competent full-back but was torn apart by the brilliance of the Loughborough left side attack in the first half.
CB: Pat Yates – 9* : A dominating and classy performance from the Cayley centre back. Seemed to be in the way of everything and the scoreline would have been far greater had it not been for his saving tackles. Deserved the sponsors’ man of the match award.
CB: Shaun Mulvenna – 7 : Unlucky for a couple of the goals, but his centre-back partner stole the show.
LB: Matt O’Brien – 5 : Struggled to cope with Denphy and Hue and was caught lapsing out of position on several occasions.
RM: Alex Birch – 4 : Made little impact and failed to deliver despite being put in some promising positions. Gave the strikers little to feed off.
CM: Callum Leslie-Draper – 6 : Looked assured but struggled to assert himself against the ferocity of the opposition centre mids. Will be disappointed he couldn’t make a greater attacking impact.
CM: Josh Brooks – 7 : Made efforts to assert himself with some tough tackling but was ultimately frustrated by the strength of the opponents.
LM: James Freshney – 7 : Got into some good positions with some good dribbling but final ball was too often lacking.
ST: David Bray – 6 : Struggled to get in the game with the aerial dominance of Hill and Wright.
ST: Gabriel Ali – 5 : Caught offside too often. Didn’t have the skill and timing to get past the strong Loughborough defence despite several displays of flair.
SUBS: Gerner (Bray 65) 5; O’Connell (Mulvenna 73) 6; Lyskov (O’Brien 73) 6