Match Reports: OUAFC Blues & Centaurs
Blues 2 - 1 Nottingham 2nds
The OUAFC Blues faced the University of Nottingham 2s on a warm afternoon 24 October, 2018.
The match was a back and forth battle for the first quarter of the game with the Blues eventually breaking the deadlock with a nice string of passes in their half and a long diagonal ball coming from the left back Leo Ackerman to forward Eddy Mort who controlled the ball well near the top of the box, turned to free up space for himself, and took a right-footed shot into the bottom left corner of the goal.
The second half brought more excitement – Nottingham had surely been given a harsh talking to after a disjointed first half performance, and they emerged on the front foot and evidently hungry to turn the game around. They started well, and won a free-kick from a crossing position on the right. The Blues’ poor marking and a strong leap from the Nottingham captain saw the scores levelled at 1-1. Soon after, goalscorer Eddy Mort went down with an injury and was replaced by Patrick Barton.
As the game wore on, and the Blues constantly threatened on the counter, it seemed as if it was going to take a special moment like last week against Cambridge to turn this into 3 points. Chris Coveney supplied that something special and substitute Barton capitalised. Coveney floated a cross from the left side of the box aiming for Barton. Though the cross did not have much pace and was low, Barton did well to bend down and put just enough power behind the ball to head it across goal into the bottom right corner away from the Nottingham keeper’s reach. This was followed by 10 minutes of intense pressure from a passionate Nottingham side, with the crossbar hit less than 5 minutes before the end of the game. Again, the Dark Blues dug deep and used their experience from the game against Cambridge last week to see out the win.
The game ended in a 2-1 victory for the Blues, and their league campaign is now looking much stronger than it did after their first home game two weeks ago. The outlook is much more positive and with a home game against Loughborough and a trip to Nottingham in 2 weeks to play their 1st team, there is real optimism in the group.
Centaurs 2 - 1 Worcester 3rds
A late but thoroughly deserved winner saw the Centaurs continue their ferocious form and advance past Worcester 3s into the next round of the cup.
The Centaurs had been on terrific form. 2 wins from 2, top of the league - the pre-season loss to Portsmouth seemed lightyears away. They headed to Worcester brimming with confidence, most of the team still buzzing from the 12 point Wednesday of the previous week. This was a replay of the opening league game of the season, which saw Oxford emerge as the superior outfit after a resounding 4-1 win at Uni Parks. But this wasn’t a league game, and anything can happen in the cup.
The boys in blue arrived to Worcester feeling fairly confident. Immediately the sight of a 3G pitch only served to further boost the confidence of the Oxford side and they got out onto the pitch with a spring in their step. The whistle blew for kick-off and it became clear that the Centaurs were going to enjoy possession on this surface.
A period of early dominance culminated in a wonderful attacking move starting from the left side of defence that worked its way through the pitch to the edge of the Worcester box. With shades of 1970s Brazil, the Centaurs played a series of quick and intricate passes building up to Jake Duxbury laying it back to Joe Hughes who slid a lovely through ball into the path of Maxwell Jones. The outcome was inevitable and Oxford went 1-0 up after about 10 minutes.
After this, however, play started to become frantic and rushed. Worcester, to their credit, were pressing aggressively high up the pitch and causing Oxford some issues when they tried to get their foot on the ball and play. Without really threatening, Worcester managed to break up play in the middle of the pitch and Oxford went into half-time with the lead but also a slight feeling of disappointment.
After half-time, the game continued in a similar way with both teams looking to get the ball in behind and chase after it due to the congestion in the middle of the park. Oxford again dominated, but the half became frustratingly stop-start as the Worcester players went down time and time again with injuries. This led to a brief lack of concentration from the Oxford defence as one hopeful long-ball wasn’t dealt with and the Worcester striker was able to poke it home. The home fans celebrated wildly, but this only served as a wake-up to the Centaurs who then upped the intensity and began to bombard the Worcester defence with attack after attack.
As the clock ticked down, it became clear that one moment of magic would be all that was needed to come away with the win. This came in the 85th minute. Alex Guzel was hacked down in the opposition half for the 3rd time in as many minutes, leaving John Findlay with an ever-dangerous set-piece to put into the box. The Centaurs back line were queuing up at the back post but it wasn’t any of them who got their head on the ball. Up stepped Jake Duxbury, a man with some demons to exercise after two consecutive DoDs, to hang in the air before burying a bullet header past the helpless Worcester keeper. With the home crowd now silenced, Oxford controlled the game, aided by El Capitan adopting the ‘Jongolo Kante’ role for the remaining five minutes, to emerge as 2-1 victors.
The Centaurs will admit it wasn’t their best or prettiest performance, but it is the sign of a great team to win when you’re not playing your best. Bring on Brookes in the next round.