Match Reports: OUAFC Blues, Centaurs, Colts & Broncos
Last week saw the first 12 Point Wednesday in history of OUAFC, with all four BUCS teams winning their games.
Blues 1-0 Cambridge
A miraculously late but well-deserved strike sees the Dark Blues emerge superior over Cambridge rivals.
Leonardo Ackerman, the captain of the Oxford Blues football squad, was the saviour: on a day where a draw would have seemed disappointing, a soaring screamer put the team 1-0 up with just ten minutes to go, from which point onwards the team put everything on the line to prevent Cambridge from equalising.
From the final whistle of our previous match against Derby, all eyes were on this pivotal fixture. Losing 2-1 to Derby at home, and playing what was generally conceived as substandard football, the icy, silent atmosphere in the changing rooms said it all: the first season opener the Dark Blues had lost in the last five seasons, we couldn’t let this happen again. Sullen faces thought to the next week, where a result against Cambridge could impact team morale hugely, as a win away would surely correct the poor start to the season.
Match day saw spirits determined and proud step out onto Cambridge’s away pitch, with the eager and expectant home fans lining the pitch doing little to unnerve the Oxford boys. From the first whistle, the still atmosphere erupted into a cacophony of shouting and cheering, and immediately a long ball comes down the right channel, which Ollie Cantrill intercepts with a ferocious header. This set the tone for the first half: the majority of individual battles were won by the Dark Blues, and the opposite side had very few promising chances on goal, although an expertly executed dive threatened to cause an early upset.
Dominic Thelen, the deceptively lithe figure lurking in the final third, along with the ever-running Eddie Mort saw numerous chances come our way, especially towards the end of the first half, including a great save from their keeper to deny a powerful strike by Dom.
The message over half-time was clear; our domineering play would amount to little if we didn’t get a vital win here today. It was well-known to everyone in that dressing room that Cambridge only lost one game last season to win the title.
The second half whistle blew, and a determined Oxford were surprised met with a different formation that increased their midfield presence. The first ten minutes saw a shaky start from the Dark Blues, as possession slipped in and out of our control, and Cambridge’s attacking three became visibly more threatening. Nonetheless, nerves were held, and our attacks mounted and wearied the Cambridge defence; yielding no clear chances, but growing in potential. A few missed corners caused frustration among the big men of Oxford’s defence, as it became ever-apparent that this could end in a goalless game. We needed someone to step up, and who better to do it than El Capitan himself: Leonardo Ackerman.
Leaving the comfort of his left-back position to engage with the offensive play, a loose ball from the defence saw Zac get it at the edge of the goalkeeper’s area. A moment of stillness, before a loud shout could be heard across the field: “LEAVE IT!” A slightly - but understandably - confused Zac steps aside, as the left foot came striking through the ball, forcing the keeper to recoil as the ball flew past into the back of the net.
The next ten minutes were some of the most inspired of our short season yet; no challenge was left out, and no opportunity to clear it was missed. The Dark Blues held on to a convincing win, and hope for the rest of the season sits high for the Oxford boys, looking to replicate that form next week against Nottingham.
Centaurs 4-1 Bedfordshire Uni 3rds
The Centaurs started their game against Bedfordshire much like the start to their season. After about 30 seconds of play, a ball down the line from Alex Guzelkececiyan slotted in the lightning quick Maxwell Jones, who cut back across the defender before calmly curling the ball into the top right corner. A great start to the game.
The Centaurs widened their lead thanks to another great set piece delivery from John Findlay, which was headed back across the goal by Ben Gregory before being rifled home by Matt Bradley.
The Centaurs appeared to be in cruise control, much to their detriment when a lapse in concentration from a long throw in led to the Bedfordshire striker leathering the ball into the top corner from 10 yards.
Half time came, and, despite being 2-1 up, the Centaurs were not particularly happy with their performance.
The second half began with the Centaurs determined to widen their lead. Chance after chance went begging, as both Maxwell Jones and Jake Duxbury missed very good chances. Finally, the breakthrough came. A hopeful header back into the box from Jonny Betteridge fell to Jones’ feet, who once again showed great composure to knock the ball across the keeper, where it finally nestled in the bottom corner.
From here on, Bedfordshire looked downtrodden, and offered little for the rest of the game. In the closing minutes, tenacious play from Jake Duxbury got him to the bi-line, where he slotted it back into the feet of Femi Williams who finished into the empty net to put the game to bed.
OUAFC Colts 3-1 Warwick 4ths
The Colts overcame a difficult start against tough opposition to run out 3-1 winners on a sunny afternoon at Iffley Road.
After a strong weak of training the Colts were raring to go, yet they were made to play for a slow start as Warwick made the most of a period of sustained pressure, opening the scoring half way through the first half when the left-winger cut inside and drilled it home from the edge of the area. However, they say you’re most vulnerable when you’ve just scored and the Colts proved the value of this football cliché as they immediately put the visitors under the cosh. This was spearheaded by the elusive Dom Bennett who had the beating of his opposite man for pace for 90 minutes and was unlucky not to have got a couple of assists from some crosses begging to be swept home. Nonetheless the Colts forced a succession of corners and, though not explicitly being a ‘set-piece’ team, it was becoming clear that Warwick couldn’t cope with the onslaught of dead ball deliveries. Just when they thought they had dealt with the danger, the ball was only cleared as far as Barnaby Graff who took time to compose himself before thumping the ball back whence it came - the keeper could only watch in horror as it flew into the net to make the scores level.
In truth, Warwick never really recovered from this setback as the Colts began to press them with renewed vim and vigour. Good combination play in the middle allowed Dom to be released from his marker on multiple occasions, while the defence was starting to assert control. The visitors must have been relieved to hear the half-time whistle as a Dom Bennett cross led to three or four golden chances from 5 yards out, but the clinical touch had deserted the hosts and the goalkeeper had his face to thank for preventing the Colts from taking the lead.
In the second half, the early season fitness levels became more apparent for the away side and, though still without the goal to tell for it, it was becoming one-way traffic for Oxford. The only real concern for the home side was when they were going to score as time was beginning to run out and a few handsome chances had been wasted. Moreover, the referee was stamping down his authority, dishing out a number of yellow cards indiscriminately which broke up the flow of the game. But cometh the hour, cometh the man, for as soon as the left-sided corner came swinging into the box it was only destined for one head; that of Dan Haxell, who threw himself headlong at the ball much like Robin van Persie against Spain in 2014, the only difference being Haxell’s bulleted header coming from 6 yards out. Warwick, stunned by this blow, lost all composure and immediately conceded another corner, which was fast becoming Oxford’s ace card. Another fine delivery saw the ball squirm its way to Dan Haxell who was now something of a magnet to the ball in the box and, buoyed by his goal just a minute beforehand, he instinctively scrapped the ball over the line, sparking wild scenes of shock and celebration. There was still time for late drama as the visitors rallied for a late forray on Oxford’s goal. Whether an effort from a corner went over the line or not, only Nobel Basser will be able to tell you, but the lack of goal line technology was perhaps vital in avoiding a nervy end to the game with Warwick crushed at the ‘no goal’ decision. All in all it was a very pleasing performance for the Colts side who’ll be looking to build on this platform next week at Birmingham, and with their new-found threat from set-pieces they’ll be confident in securing a positive result.
Broncos 3-2 De Montford 6ths
The Broncos kickstarted their BUCS campaign with an emotional win against De Montfort. With a switch to 4-3-3 and many new players appearing in their first BUCS match, the game began tentatively and De Montford managed to score a very soft goal. The Broncos quickly responded with Nick Stovall-Kurtz’s second goal of the campaign.
From that point, it was complete domination with De Montford unable to keep up with the intensity of the Broncos’ press, with the charge led by Barney “the Bus” Poznansky. Slick passing carved their defence to pieces with Ben Wiggins having a field day with the opposition right back. Several missed chances later, De Montford struck with a very poor goal after a lack of concentration in defence.
The Broncos responded again and forced De Montford deep into their half. A slick pass by Harry Wilson released Ben Wiggins to slot the ball around the keeper. With the chase for the winner, the Broncos showed their superior fitness and forced 13 shots on target in the second half. The keeper remained resilient single handedly kept De Montford in the game - evening saving a Tom McShane penalty. In the final minute of the game, Tom McShane latched onto a Poznansky header and placed the ball in the net, earning redemption and the first win of the Broncos’ season!