Match Reports: Centaurs, Colts & Broncos
Both the Centaurs and the Colts secured victories last week to remain top of their tables, whilst the Broncos fought out a crucial draw, keeping them safely in 2nd place.
Centaurs 2-1 University of Northampton 2nds
The Centaurs came into this game with Vietnam-esque flashbacks in their mind. Northampton were the only team they had dropped points to all season, thanks to a late header from the Northampton full back to make it 2-2. The pitch that day could well have been a scene from the war, with tackles that verged on assault flying in left, right and centre.
Wednesday was different. On the smooth surface of Iffley, the Centaurs could control possession and stop the game becoming as scrappy as last time around. Early on, a typical marauding run down the right wing from Jones, led to a low ball delivered into the box, which somehow made it to the back post. This was picked up calmly by Akinwuntan, who then moved the ball to his right side before finishing low between the defenders legs. A great start to the game.
The game continued, with the Centaurs keeping control of the ball and the game, until disaster struck. A long ball over the top from Northampton, which looked never to be causing any danger, resulted in a mixup where the ball was passed back to an onrushing keeper, only to watch as it went straight past Kerr-Davis and the striker could finish into an empty net.
The Centaurs were determined that this not be their downfall, and continued to attack with venom. A cross from the right hand side, headed away by a Northampton defender bounced towards Betteridge. A stunning top corner volley was on everyone’s minds, except his. He calmly cushioned the ball into the path of Hughes, who curled the ball first time into the top right hand corner. The Centaurs were back where they should have been.
Half time came, and the Centaurs were encouraged that they hadn’t been threatened by Northampton, but disappointed by the way they had given a goal away. The second half was far more equal. Northampton, in typical fashion, fought hard. One Northampton player even claiming he would ‘snap’ both Rhino and Rhino’s mum, before being subbed off to calm himself down. The Centaurs were not going down without a fight, and managed to stay above this scrappy game. Chance after chance to put the game to bed went begging. Wall, on the 6 yard box, putting a great cross by Jones wide of the post. Jones, again on the 6 yard box, stooping to head the ball, managed to divert it over the bar. Bennett going clean through only to be denied by a good save from the Northampton keeper.
These missed chances only spurred Northampton on in thinking this might be their day. Northampton began to control the game, with the Centaurs pinned in their own half, and getting the occasional counter attack. The last minute came, with a freekick to Northampton about 35 yards out on the right. Northampton threw all they had at it, keeper included. A looping freekick was diverted back across the goal line, with a Northampton player waiting at the back post to tap it in. However, at the last moment, Dan Clifford came sliding in, and miraculously managed to hook his foot around the ball and clear it off the line, before the final whistle went moments later. A gritty performance from the Centaurs, although they all knew the game should not have been as close as it was.
With Lincoln losing to Worcester 2-0 on the same day, the Centaurs now have one hand on the league title.
Colts 4-0 University of Derby 5ths
The first fixture after a brief break from football due to the adverse weather conditions that have plagued the UK for the last few weeks saw the Colts travel to Derby. Despite the long journey there was no sign of a lack of sharpness early in the game with a strong team press forcing a mistake from the Derby centre back. Leahy was on hand to latch on to the end of the misplaced backpass and calmly slot the ball through the legs of the onrushing keeper. The remainder of the half was largely uneventful, with a solid Colts back four leaving goalkeeper Sambrook relatively untested. A late chance saw Osborne skillfully evade two defenders on the edge of the box but the resulting shot struck the base of the post and Finnegan had his head in his hands after his rebound sailed over the bar.
The second half was much more lively and after some tantalising link up play from Jones and Leahy down the left wing, McCabe found himself sliding in at the back post for what would have been a certain goal except for an astonishing feat of athleticism from the opposition goalkeeper to tip the ball round the post. However, it was not long after when the lead was doubled, Leahy netting his second of the game with an audacious lob from outside the box. The third goal followed soon after when Osborne found himself bringing down a cross with his back to goal and must be commended on his level headedness and generosity to pick a perfect lay off for McCabe to stroke home rather than snatching at a chance himself. It was at this point it became clear to the Derby players that the game was beyond their reach and Graff and Goldstein ended up on the receiving end of a few tackles that wouldn’t be out of place on a rugby pitch while the fans took to childish insults such as “Where did you get your hair cut?”, mostly aimed at Hodgson. The final nail in the coffin was delivered in the dying minutes of the game as Leahy rifled a left footed effort into the top corner to complete his hattrick. With another victory secured the Colts headed home and an enjoyable bus journey was had by all.
Broncos 0-0 University of Nottingham 5ths
The OUAFC Broncos left Nottingham on Wednesday with a vital away point against their main promotion contenders in BUCS Midlands 6B but will still feel as if they could have snatched all three.
It was a nervous start for the Broncos who had only 13 players available for this match due to injuries and unavailabilities. Nottingham, knowing that only a win would do to put the race for 2nd in their hands, came out flying out of the blocks with a dangerous cross across the 6 yard box just seconds into the match but no Nottingham player was around for a tap in.
For the next 35 mins, Nottingham enjoyed lots of possession in the Broncos half. But they failed to do anything substantial with it except for one chance midway through the first half. Nottingham managed to squeeze a pass into a player in behind the Broncos defence on the edge of the box but an excellent save from the onrushing alert Broncos keeper Haider Mukhles kept Nottingham at bay.
From around the 40 minute mark, the Broncos started to make more use of the ball when they had it, and this led to striker Owen Ace having the chance of the match, finding himself one-on-one with a bouncing ball and lobbing it over the keeper’s head, but unfortunately also the crossbar.
The second half was different to the first. The Broncos were now the ones with the lion’s share of possession but unlike their opponents in the first half, quite a few chances were created. The greatest chance of the second half fell once again to Owen Ace, who tried to surprise the opposition keeper with a fierce volley from a tight angle but it went narrowly over. Half chances on the counter came and went for the Broncos as possession went back to Nottingham late on as they tried to push forward in the last 5 minutes but they couldn’t fashion a chance to worry the solid Broncos defence. With the full-time whistle came mixed emotions as a satisfactory point was won but potentially 2 lost as well. The Broncos are now looking to extend their cup run next time round when they play Anglia Ruskin 2nds on 13th February for a place in the semi-finals of the Midlands Conference Plate.