Brookes Varsity: OUAFC Blues Match Report
Oxford remains blue after convincing Brookes Varsity Win
The emphatic win over Brookes in the Varsity match last Friday comes just days after losing 2-1 to Derby after a late winner, which saw the current league leaders push an agonising few points further ahead of the Blues, whose hopes of achieving the league title have become all the more constrained. To make such a dramatic turnaround, however, is testament to the strength and determination of the squad. With such an opportunity that beckons at home ground, with over 500 supporters packed out in the slightly small stands, the Blues certainly grasped it with both hands.
Arriving at the stadium to find the minority Oxford supporters overwhelmingly cheering, due to the women’s blues impressive and well-fought 2-1 win, the pressure was on for the Blues. As we sit in the stands for the last few minutes of the game, and to soak in the atmosphere, we’re immediately confronted with a Brookes’ fan, who proceeds to shout at us. The atmosphere, and poorly formed chants, was set: this game was going to be the most intense of the season.
From kick-off, our objective was to press high and wild, a technique coach Mickey Lewis dubbed the “Cantrill” after the eponymous right-wing player known for his relentless chasing. While second balls posed a problem, especially in the offensive third and middle of the pitch, Oxford dominated possession. As confidence and composure grew, an excellent run into the box invited a rash challenge and subsequent penalty. Who better to take it than renowned Blues striker Dominic Thelen, who, after scoring, proceeds to kick the ball into the Brookes fans with a huge smile. This really set the tone for the rest of the game.
Some impressively worked goals followed; particularly the second, where, starting from Leo Ackerman in the left wing-back position, the ball was fed through Matty Naylor in the midfield, switched to Ollie Cantrill on the right-wing, who gave it up to Jamie Shaw on the overlap, who then crossed it in to find a rapid Zach Liew waiting in the six yard box to neatly finish it.
At this point, the Brookes fans, usually roaring and eager to shout whatever and whenever, found themselves torn between self-pride and encouragement of a losing team. A third, equally impressive goal soon followed, as the ball was worked down to the corner flag, from Dominic to Patrick Barton, who whipped in a fiery ball for ‘Mr. Wild’ himself to slot away.
Brookes fans had consequently resorted to chanting: “You’re nothing special, we lose every week.” While this may be true, nothing can be taken away from the Blues on this memorable night. Their composure and effective shape saw very little chances given away, with resolute defending from the centre backs Tom Tutton and Ben Briggs; notice even the powerful alliteration of their names. A late substitution saw Chris Coveney and Jake Duxbridge come on, where some hard work in their defensive third enabled Chris to work his way into the box and finish a tight ball into the back corner; a fantastic fresher’s debut by all accounts, and a magical way to end the game.
The Blues look to add to their first silverware of the season against Bristol on Wednesday, marking the beginning of the cup run. If Friday is anything to go by, the Blues will be a force to reckon with, and have the potential to do very well for the rest of this season.