Match Reports: Blues, Centaurs, Colts & Broncos
Blues 3-1 De Montfort 1sts
In their second pre-Hilary outing, the Blues took on De Montfort on a cold, rainy and windy Leicestershire afternoon. The conditions, combined with the hosts' robust pressing style unsettled the Blues initially, as they struggled to get the ball down and play crisp, passing football. The Blues did, however, find the breakthrough mid-way through the first half at a corner, with Ollie Cantrill nodding in Ackerman's delivery. In the second half, the Blues appeared to settle more into their rhythm, and started to create some dangerous-looking attacks down both flanks. Eventually, the pressure told as a failed Duxbury-Barton one-two found its way to Jamie Shaw, who rifled his strike across the keeper and into the bottom corner. A third came soon later, as Achtel and Ackerman neatly combined down the left, the skipper's cross finding Duxbury at the back post who duly applied the finishing touch to an impressive team move. As De Montfort began to tire, spaces opened up across the park and the Blues could easily have scored several more on the break. However, it was the hosts who had the final say- a late header at the back post from a wide free-kick denied Langham what would have been a well-earned clean sheet, having saved a couple from point blank range earlier on in the half. The match ended soon after to give the Blues their second pre-Hilary victory in as many games; the team will be eager to continue their winning run away to Bristol on Wednesday.
Centaurs 6-2 De Montfort 2nds
It was the first game back for the boys in blue after the Christmas vacation who were looking to shed the thiccmas weight and set a positive precedent for the rest of the term.
A cold and miserable afternoon in Leicester could have set the tone for this pre-season match up but the early exchanges saw the Centaurs set the pitch alight with their fast and flowing football. A deserved 1-0 lead was taken when Joe Hughes slid the ball under their despairing keeper who was already wishing he he’d stayed in bed that morning. However, two Tom Daley-esque dives from Sammy Wall riled the opposition up who went on to fire two past Asa in goal – a jammy and undeserved comeback from DMU to say the least. However, with Jones and Betteridge leaving the pitch injured the result was looking as bleak as the weather for the Centaurs, could this be the end of their unbeaten run?
Of course not, we bleed oxford dark blue and would not give up without a fight. Femi Williams teased us all by missing a sitter, but he knew he was offside, before tapping in a near post cross from Dom Bennett after some intelligent movement in the box. Was this the start of a Dom Bennett-led revival? Yes, it was.
With cries of “Up the town” the Huddersfield-born winger repeatedly and without mercy took De Montfort’s left back to the cleaners giving him a thorough rinsing. This build up play was not without final product though and after a third megnuts of the game (on the same left back) Bennett set up Sam Wall to finish in the bottom corner. The Centaurs midfield looked to exploit the only gap bigger than the one between that poor defender’s legs with great success – Akinwuntan and Wall both finding Bennett in behind who tucked away two goals in as many minutes.
The score had reached 5-2 but of course this was not enough for the lads who had an appetite for more goals. “IT’S STILL 0-0” calls Matt Bradley from the back and Joe Hughes responds with his second of the match to finish the day with the Centaurs 6-2 victors.
There are undoubtedly tougher tests ahead for the Centaurs this term but confidence in the camp is high and with results like this, the future looks bright for Betteridge’s boys. Rumour has it a student from Lincoln was found outside Iffley with a pair of binoculars and wire cutters ahead of the title-deciding clash 27th February.
Colts 3-2 De Montfort 3rds
The Colts were thrust back into life in the BUCS Midlands 5A league this term, with an away match to their closest rivals this year, De Montfort University. Arriving with plenty of time, they surveyed the pristine 3G pitch, shining under the floodlights, before entering the changing rooms to prepare for what might just have been their biggest match of the season thus far. The cold air was biting, and a blistering wind blew through the stadium, but both teams started fast, with all the players knowing how important the points at stake would be. De Montfort had some strong spells in the opening stages, threatening down both wings and testing Oxford right-back Eoin Finnegan’s pace, a test in which he duly passed over the course of the 90 minutes. Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Oxford defence was coming to terms with De Montfort’s at times noisy communication, and even captain Josh Penollar was for once silenced, out of confusion and a struggle to come to terms with what he was hearing. It appeared that one of the opposition players was called Striker, but he was playing at left-back, extremely disorientating as you can imagine. Having struggled past this, Oxford soon noted that DMU’s play was quick, dynamic, and their slick skills and assured passing suited their 3G home pitch. Some of the quick feet from the opponents’ wingers looked to pose a problem, but it soon transpired that no De Montfort player surpassed two-star skill-moves, so fortunately nothing more sinister than ball rolls and stepovers emerged. As time progressed, Oxford began to grow into the game, having some strong spells of possession dictated by the silky debutant, Josh Goldstein, partnering the ever-reliable Barnaby Graff in the centre. Both teams had chances, with a notable De Montfort shot skimming past the upright, but the biggest moment fell to our number 9 in the 43rd minute. Ed Jones, after a gut-busting press running five yards to put their goalie under gentle pressure, was blowing heavily, and began to saunter back casually into an onside position. When suddenly, in a moment of extreme misjudgement, the aforementioned Striker looked for a blind passback! It fell right to our front man’s feet, and he did not disappoint, with a sublime toe-poke right down the middle of the goal and into the back of the net. 1-0 Oxford at half-time. Much action awaited in the second half, with Oxford set back almost immediately. After a phenomenal save from Penollar’s corner header directed towards the top corner, the De Montfort keeper swiftly launched a break, and despite a couple of strong tackles from Oxford en route, DMU managed to bundle the ball in at the other end, levelling the score. Oxford responded quickly, and some superb work down the left-wing from Adam Austin, who is surely due for a doping test after some obscene fitness level displays, resulted in a looping ball into the box, which looked destined to be volleyed home by Graff. A scuff and a tap in later, Ed Jones had his second, and our trusty vice-captain had his first ‘assist’ of the season. Soon after, Jones, reminiscent of his penalty dive against the Centaurs in pre-season, hit the deck on the edge of the DMU box, winning what could be a vital opportunity for Oxford. Graff demanded the ball, and as you can guess, scored the free-kick*. 3-1, and Oxford had a firm grip of the game, but DMU were not about to lie down on their home turf. A questionable free-kick was awarded, and brilliantly looped over the wall and into the bottom corner. A frustrated Joe Fisher, and a handful of excited De Montfort hooligans documenting the game on Snapchat, the game was back in the balance. The last twenty proved nervy, but Oxford’s back line was not to be broken through (again), with assured performances from Chris Nitschke and Dan Haxell as ever. With chances to kill the game off spurned by a returning-from-injury Pat Leahy, the clock seemed to tick on slowly by, but after what seemed like an eternity, the referee blew his whistle, and Oxford shot six points clear at the top of the table, with De Montfort holding a game in hand. Next week, De Montfort make the trip to Oxford, in a game that could be decisive for this year’s title race. Watch this space. *via a massive deflection.
Broncos 0-2 Moulton College
The Broncos started 2019 on a disappointing note with a 2-0 home defeat against Moulton College 1sts in what was a massive game at the top of the table in BUCS Midlands 6B.
After the Broncos upset Moulton on their own turf back in November with a 1-0 victory in the Conference Plate last 16, Moulton came to Oxford seeking revenge, knowing that the league title would be out of their hands with a defeat.
With that extra motivation, the Broncos found themselves facing early pressure as Moulton looked to stun them early with through balls in behind the defence. Haider Mukhles, the Broncos keeper, had a bit to do early on but held on to some tough low shots superbly. But it was through the more direct route that led to the opening goal for the away side.
A flick on from a long ball evaded the Broncos defence and allowed a pacy Moulton striker to round the keeper and slot home the opener.
Their second came not too long after but came from a flowing passing move with intricate passes that allowed a Moulton striker to just dink it over the inrushing Broncos keeper, Haider Mukhles. The Broncos had their backs up against the wall early on but then started to enjoy a bit of a good spell midway through the first half as Moulton’s players and manager started to lose their discipline over contentious free kick decisions.
One of them was when a stray backpass put Broncos striker Jake Jackson through on goal before being taken down just outside the box by the Moulton keeper. Both sides were in uproar. Moulton believing that there was no foul and the Broncos because they believed it was a penalty with a potential red card for the Moulton keeper. But there was no card and no penalty. Just a free-kick by top scorer Nick Stovall-Kurtz which ended up straight at the keeper.
The second half saw constant Moulton pressure for long periods but the Broncos kept on battling in what was only their second time playing football since the Christmas vacation. Headers were won, clearances were made and tackles perfectly executed to keep a clean sheet in the second half.
Only 3 yellow cards were given out during the match and 2 went to the same player as Moulton finished the match with 10 men when one of their sub strikers picked up two yellow cards in the second half, the last coming in the final 5 minutes of the match with a dangerous late tackle on a Broncos defender. Despite finding a bit more space and despite enjoying a bit more possession, the Broncos couldn’t turn their short numerical advantage into a goal to make the closing stages more interesting.
It finished 0-2 but despite the dented title aspirations, the Broncos can still get promoted by finishing in the top two and still have a cup quarter final to come. Next for the team led by captain Emmanuel Amissah-Eshun is De Montfort 6ths away at the end of the month.