Teddy Hall exploited a persistent flaw in Christ Church’s dealing with set pieces to the full as three second-half goals saw off the defending champions. The home side began the brighter team, showing an energy and verve reminiscent of the manner in which the title was won last season. Teddy Hall were left struggling to retain possession for any extended period of time in the first fifteen minutes but Christ Church failed to create anything of note in the final third. After the pressure and smooth passing of this opening spell, the home side found their rhythm disrupted as their opponents gradually got into the game more, using the wings and spreading play more effectively.
There were few clear-cut chances in the first half to report. The best chance of the half fell to Christ Church striker Mark Michaelides, who showed notable strength and control to carve out an opportunity in the eighteen-yard box only to see a tame shot scooped up in the hands of Teddy Hall’s grateful keeper. Both sides looked most threatening from dead ball situations and chances forged from gritty spirit, as so often this season individual flashes of skill overshadowed by both sides’ failures to deal with floating balls and whipped crosses into the box.
However, by half-time neither side had been able to find the net and with a relatively even balance of play both teams would have gone into the break feeling their players had a little more to give. The second half started much in the same way that the first had left off, although slowly Teddy Hall appeared to be gaining a dominance in midfield, with Christ Church’s defence finding themselves more and more overrun in their attempts to keep the ball clear of their goal. This increasing dominance eventually paid off for Teddy Hall, although not from open play. Christ Church, who have shown a weakness at dealing with dead ball situations in the first two games of the campaign, failed to clear from a Teddy Hall corner and the ball found its way into the back of the net fifteen minutes through the second half.
After going one behind, the home side displayed a rather uncharacteristic level of capitulation, struggling to string any measure of passes together and finding their midfield increasingly controlled by Teddy Hall and their defence under increasing pressure. Teddy Hall were starting to govern the game and two further goals in fairly quick succession, both again from undealt with corners, saw the game put beyond Christ Church’s reach. It was only then that the home side, seemingly unencumbered and losing the weight of the game, started to build some rhythm again after shifting players around the pitch and adopting a freer mentality, and started to look threatening. In the final minutes, Paul Batty’s left foot drive cannoned off the crossbar and a few potentially dangerous balls from the wings were uncleared by the Teddy Hall defence. However, the away side had controlled most of the second half and came away with a deserved three points. This was a big match for both sides and could hold a good degree of influence on how the season will pan out.