Hall progress as Ielpo saves them again

first_imgQueen’s 1 – 1 St Edmund Hall (St Edmund Hall won 4-2 on penalties)You could have been forgiven for dealing in clichés when describing this match, for it really did have all the ingredients for the perfect cup tie. Queen’s went into the game the worst placed first team in college football, having only picked up one point from their nine outings, while Teddy Hall were in pole position to chase Premier League glory. The sides’ divergent league positions, combined with their old rivalry and the blustery conditions meant you always felt a great quarter final was in store. The home side, bolstered by the introduction of university players, James Kelly, Paul Gorrie and Si Lennox, made the stronger start and created a couple of opportunities – industrious right winger Ronan Ferguson was unlucky not to get away a clear shot when one of those chances came his way. Ferguson’s work levels typified those of the whole Queen’s midfield who dedicated all their energy to closing down their opponents and disrupting the usually effective Teddy Hall passing game. With their creative players just not being allowed the time to perform, the Hall quickly resorted to pumping up long balls in the direction of lanky striker Will Frost. Yet with Gorrie and captain Max Olds proving imperious in the air for Queen’s that tactic saw little reward and ultimately the favourites didn’t create any opportunities before the interval. In contrast, the home side began to exert ever more pressure as the first half went on with striker Chris Harrison forcing Hall keeper Nick Ielpo into a good save from a hooked volley shortly before a piledriver from midfielder Si Lennox only just missed the target. As the Queen’s pressure grew, the visitors got increasingly frustrated and showed signs of indiscipline with some dreadful tackling. With both right-back Tom Joy and central midfielder (and Blue) James Kelly providing excellent dead ball delivery you always sensed Hall petulance would cost them, and so it proved. Firstly tricky Queen’s winger Alex Edmiston was hacked down and Kelly curled the resulting free kick just over and then an absolutely shocking tackle on Kelly by Tom Theodore saw another set piece cause confusion in the Teddy Hall box. With half time approaching it would prove to be third time lucky for Queen’s when yet another foul on Kelly resulted in a free kick which was athletically hooked into the net by centre-back Paul Gorrie. The home side fully deserved their lead at the interval. After what had been a close fought and fairly scrappy first half it was perhaps inevitable that the second period would be more open as the relentless pace of the game began to take its toll on the players’ legs. It was Hall who seemed to show the better fitness however with powerful midfielder Tom Theodore blasting a couple of efforts from long distance before his delicate chip was headed towards the top corner by Charlie Talbot-Smith forcing Queen’s keeper Paul Billingham into a stunning save as he tipped the ball onto the bar. Their keeper’s heroics seemed to spur Queen’s into action with first Tom Joy’s and then substitute Will Riley’s though balls troubling the Teddy Hall defence as Jon Dowle, another second half substitute, really put himself about up front. Yet despite that mini-resurgence the home team lacked the control they had shown in the first forty-five, no doubt the loss of playmaker James Kelly to injury was crucial in this regard. As Hall continued to press, a cross by Casper Lefanu was clattered onto the crossbar by Will Frost before the Hall striker atoned for that miss by curling a free kick round the wall past despairing keeper Billingham to level the scores. That equaliser came right at the end of the second half but Queen’s still managed to carve out one more chance, Jon Dowle went through on the keeper but Ielpo demonstrated why he is pushing for a Blues place with a top save. With the light closing in the referee decided that the game should go straight to penalties. Si Lennox and Paul Gorrie responded to Tom Theodore and Will Frost’s efforts to make it 2-2 after the opening exchanges. Hall Captain John Waldron then put his side ahead before his opposite number Max Olds saw his effort saved by Ielpo, although there was some suspicion that the keeper was off his line. A superb reaction save from Billingham in the Queen’s goal gave the home side hope but when Will Riley failed to convert and Ed Norse put his effort away the tie was decided. The result was harsh on the home side who battled well to defy their league form and push their old rivals close. Their unwavering work rate deserved the reward of a semi-final place but ultimately it was a cruel defeat on penalties for the people’s victors.by John Citronlast_img read more