St Catz 0-1 Christchurch

St Catz may consider themselves hard done by after coming away empty-handed from a tie that saw last year’s top two college sides pitched together. Catz controlled most of the game, even dominating portions of it; by contrast Christ Church looked under par, and relied on gritty spirit and strong heart to battle through large parts of the match. Both sides are better known for their tight passing games, but this confrontation showed only flashes of the glitter that has graced previous bouts.

The home side began with real intensity and for the early period of the game dominated possession and play, with Christ Church struggling to get the ball out of their own half. Utilizing the pace and power of their attacking force well, Catz created a string of good chances, threatening several times from corners which the Christ Church defence failed to clear. Although this relentless pressure did ease up towards the end of the first half, Christ Church could still count themselves rather fortunate to go into half time looking at a blank score sheet, with Catz having kept a strong hold on possession throughout the first period. Christ Church looked dangerous when in possession but all too rarely did their midfield get the ball for extended periods.

The second half started on far more even terms, although Catz still looked the more threatening side, and Christ Church struggled to create anything significant in the final third. The game then continued at a more sedate tempo, and seemed fated to remain goalless when Christ Church won a free kick a little over the half way line. In dead ball situations, free kicks had not been used as effectively as corners and the position was less promising than previous instances, but Richard Bath’s delivery went unchallenged by the Catz defence and Christ Church captain Chris Wallwork deftly steered the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. There remained only a few minutes for the away side to defend their lead. Both sides are yet to find the rhythm which underpinned their tussle for the title last season. Catz were the better side overall, but their failure to convert any of the chances they created would appear to be a worry for coming games. Christ Church, by contrast, have the promising consolation of four points after two mediocre performances, and are grinding out points below their best, often the hallmark of a champion side.