Loughborough University
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1 May 2009 | PR 09/47

Loughborough claim national student football title in sudden death thriller

Loughborough’s footballers clinched the national BUCS Championship title after a nail biter of a match that went down to sudden death and the 14th penalty at QPR’s Loftus Road ground on 29 April.

A scrappy game against defending champions UWE Hartpury ended goalless at full time, forcing an extra 30 minutes of play.  Late Loughborough replacement Charlie Mpi was the evening’s golden boy – scoring his team’s only goal of the match then sealing their win with a well-struck 14th penalty.

“To come through what the guys did and pull together for the penalty shoot out is vindication of their courage, passion and team spirit,” said head coach Tom Curtis.  “I’ve never seen a match run into so many penalties before.

“Hartpury have got a really good football programme and given their form over the last couple of years we were definitely the underdogs on the day.  Tactically, we set out to stop them and it worked really well, as did the changes we had up our sleeve for the end of the game.

“It certainly wasn’t the best looking football we’ve played all season but the guys did what they set out to do and I’m really chuffed for them.”

The match started slowly with both teams, whose names have graced the winners’ cup for the last five years, playing cautiously.  And in what can best be described as an aerial game, neither side put up much of a challenge in the first 45 minutes.  Hartpury came closest to scoring when a chance kick hit the bar, and despite a series of free kicks in the run-up to the break Loughborough failed to capitalise leaving the score 0-0 at half time.

Hartpury had all the early possession in the second half, but Loughborough’s Adam Steventon worked tirelessly to block any attempts into the box.  Super sub Mpi took to the field with 20 minutes to go, injecting some much needed pace and urgency.

As the Gloucester team tried to break down the Loughborough barricade, keeper David Coombes stepped up for a clutch of saves from the corner.  In the final minutes of normal play, Loughborough picked up the pace and some joined up play from Mpi, Bradley Pritchard and Ben Havey saw them challenge at goal. But the attempts were too late and the full time whistled signalled the move to extra time.    

With both teams chasing a score, the extra 30 minutes made for a more exciting face-off. Loughborough proved the better of the sides and were cheated when a shot edged over the posts. Danger man Mpi was held back on a solo run, resulting in a booking for his Hartpury assailant.

Sensing their chances, Mikel Suarez boosted the trio of Mpi, Pritchard and Havey to wear down the defence. Just minutes later the work paid off as Mpi hit the net after a ball was headed back in by the lofty Suarez. Loughborough took the 1-0 lead with less than a minute of the half to go.

The second half was a more sober affair to begin with, both sides having their chances at goal but neither benefitting from their attempts. Mid-way through a promising Loughborough charge through Suarez and Mpi looked set to seal the match, but Hartpury’s Steve Davis, the benefactor of a well-cleared goal kick, immediately replied to level the score on the 12 minute mark.

The crowds got behind their respective teams and Loughborough played with an increased sense of urgency that had been missing for much of the match.  Attackers flooded the halves and in the resulting tussles both goal scorers were carded. Loughborough made a tactical substitution in the form of mid-fielder Anthony Moulds and the whistle blew for the final time.

No one could have predicted the head-to-head to come as the teams matched each other for 13 straight penalties in what was a heart-stopping affair.  The supporters groaned as Hartpury were gifted two extra chances when successive penalty attempts were forced to be retaken.

Keeper Coombes kept his nerve throughout, saving three Hartpury penalties as well as slotting his own when the keepers were obliged to go for goal.  Going second, Loughborough mirrored their opponents successes until the 14th attempt when Hartpury missed.

Goal scorer Mpi pulled it out the bag for the second time of the evening to the delight of his team who reclaimed the title they have won 33 times before.   


For all media enquiries contact:

Amanda Overend
Sport PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228686
E: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top fifteen of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2008 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, with 22 out of 30 of its subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. It was named winner of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other institution.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

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