Second place took on fourth in north Oxford as Teddy Hall sought to establish their title credentials. Wadham, on the hand, are mired in mid-table after a frustrating season. The last meeting between the two sides was a 1-1 draw at the start of November.
Ben Quigley returned to the Wadham side for the first time this term, slotting in on the right, while Hall were without at least three first choice players. After a dire 2-0 loss away to Worcester in 1st week, Wadham recovered to beat Christ Church 3-1 in their last league fixture, while Hall had lost only one of their last four matches.
Hall have rarely been dull to watch this term, and did not disappoint this time around. They were ahead after only five minutes of play following a comedy mix-up in the Wadham defence, which saw the centre-back’s header loop over the advancing goalkeeper and bounce towards the net. Hall’s Philip Dafinone reached the ball just before it crossed the line to claim what was essentially an own goal. Once again this season, Wadham’s defensive frailty had cost them. However, the first half was far from one-sided. Both teams played attractive, attacking football and there were chances at both ends. A stinging shot by Frank Collings was well held by the Wadham keeper, but Hall doubled their lead before the half was out. Good build-up play resulted in a shot, stopped without much trouble by the Wadham goalkeeper, but the ball was then inexplicably passed to Collings, lurking on the edge of the penalty area, who slotted home with ease. In an even match, Hall were probably worth their half-time lead for their defensive resilience, but Wadham had done themselves no favours.
They required an early goal in the second half, and got it within five minutes of the restart. The diminutive Chris Nicholls had come on as a half-time substitute, and was immediately effective down the right, whipping in a cross which Ben Quigley prodded home from only a few yards out. On his first appearance for the Wadham first team, Nicholls had created a goal with only his second touch of the ball. With confidence restored, Wadham pressed forward in what was an increasingly competitive match, with chances for both sides. Twenty minutes in, Hall almost went ahead courtesy of a firmly struck shot, while Wadham’s width was beginning to cause them some difficulties. However, just as they had fought their way back into the match, the home side conceded again. On 67 minutes, Nick Marsh fired a cross in. The Wadham defender, in attempting to head the ball behind, only managed to deflect it onto his own post, and Callum Grant was on hand for Hall to slot home into the bottom left corner.
Wadham were not defeated yet though. Five minutes later, the referee awarded Wadham a penalty for hand-ball, and Quigley calmly passed the ball into the right hand corner, sending the keeper the wrong way. After this though, Hall rarely looked like conceding again. Their back-four was solid throughout, and they ran out worthy winners for their defensive play, even if some of their goals might be considered fortunate.
With Worcester holding Mertsfield to a draw, this result saw a further erosion of their lead at the top of the JCR Premier Division, which now stands at a single point. Hall, ferociously competitive and committed as always, will not let them take the title easily.