Match Report: Blues & Centaurs
Bristol 1sts 1-1 Blues
In their final pre-Hilary friendly, the Blues traveled to Bristol to face the side which had knocked them out of the cup two months ago. The Blues had arguably their liveliest start of the term, creating promising openings and dictating the play well. However, it was Bristol who took an early lead on the counter, the pacy winger adeptly finishing a swiftly-executed break. This seemed to initially unsettle the Blues somewhat, who struggled to recapture the crisp play which had seen them do all of the early running in the game. Later on in the first half, though, the Blues gathered momentum and the final five minutes of the half can only be described as a siege on the Bristol goal. This pressure eventually told, with Duxbury holding off the defenders to lay back to Achtel, who blasted the ball past the motionless keeper from 16 yards. The second-half was generally even throughout, with both sides passing up opportunities to break the deadlock. Langham was kept busy in the Oxford goal, but rarely looked in any great discomfort. At the other end, for all the Blues' attacking threat, they didn't challenge the Bristol keeper enough. So 1-1 it finished, which rounded off an unbeaten and largely satisfactory two-week pre-Hilary for the Blues. All eyes will now be on their BUCS return, where they will look to turn performances into points as they take on Nottingham 2s away from home.
Worcester 3rd 1-2 Centaurs
This was the third game of the year against the same opposition, and the Centaurs knew that this team was not to be underestimated after the tough test they had given them before. Somehow Worcester sat bottom of the league without a win or draw, so although the Centaurs were not complacent, they knew an opportunity to get three more points could not be squandered if their hopes of being promoted were to remain intact.
The snow in Oxford led to the possibility of the match being called off, but the 3G surface that the game was to be played on allowed the game to happen and the team began the trek up to Worcester. Difficulty parking and the reluctance to leave the minibus which would not lock unguarded left the team with little time (or space) to warm up, but the Centaurs started the game as motivated as ever and began launching attacks on the Worcester goal. After some dubious offside calls, the ball finally rested at the feet of Akin on the left wing, who tore past the Worcester right back to whip in a low driven cross to the front post where Femi was waiting to flick the ball inside the near post of the goal ahead of the Worcester centre back. Some of the home fans became riled up as the Centaurs began to take control and took it out on the unsuspecting referee, demanding to know if he had non-stick hands.
But the ref did have a grip on the game, as did the Centaurs, and so it seemed inconceivable based on the balance of play that Worcester could get back into the game at that point, yet nevertheless they levelled soon after. Perhaps it was to be third time lucky for Worcester. But the Centaurs were not ready to give up and after the half-time break the Centaurs got straight at the opposition. Sure enough, they were quickly rewarded. A Matt Bradley through ball (who was adamant Femi did not get a touch on it) left Sam Wall one-on-one with the keeper, and there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the unlikely but ruthless joint top-scorer would finish.
Perhaps on another day the Centaurs would have pushed for a third, but they were content with any win against such a dogged side. That was not to say that they did not play proper football, the play leaving some of the home fans with no choice but to switch sides, with cries of ‘Dommy Bennet’ being heard from certain parts of the stadium. How it was they knew his name still remains a mystery; perhaps the still terrified De Montford left back had warned them of his presence. Chances did occur for the away side, the closest being a looping effort from Findlay only being able to ricochet off the bar, with some already turned away expecting it to nestle in the back of the net.
The final half an hour of the game was certainly nervy in places, with claims for two penalties for the home side, the referee adjudging both of them to be just outside the box. Worcester players swarmed into the box, outnumbering the Centaurs in some cases, but the defence stood firm. The Worcester team could not find a way through, and the game ended 2-1 to the Centaurs.
Another crucial success for the unbeaten Centaurs to return to the top of the table ahead of Lincoln, perhaps only trumped by the success of getting Tom Stephens back to Oxford for his 6pm tutorial. Another step closer taken to achieving promotion that is set firmly in the sights of the team.