Will Boyer and Matt Handley on how strong showings are a sign of things to come
An own goal with virtually the last touch of the match was needed to give the Blues a 2-1 victory in their local derby away at Brookes.
Brookes started the match sharper and with a greater swagger than their Oxford University counterparts, pressing forward for much of the first half with excellent play down both flanks. The home side’s play was rewarded as they took the lead midway through the first half. Some good build-up play got the Brookes winger in behind the defence to set up the forward to slot home, which separated the sides at half time.
The interval was a welcome one for the Blues, who came out stronger in the second half. Switching to a more direct style of play proved to be a good move when, on the 50 minute mark, Alex Biggs converted from close range, ten minutes before being replaced by the energetic Ed Grimer.
Both sides had more chances but it wasn’t until the final minute when the Blues completed the turnaround, as a header from central defender Anthony Beddows back across the home team’s goal found its way into the net via an unfortunate Brookes defender, whose own goal compounded an awful performance that ended up costing the team a valuable point.
The Centaurs squad had slightly further to travel for their first match of the season against the University of Birmingham, but came away buzzing after a 1-0 victory.
Following a shaky pre-season, the Centaurs’ confidence was bolstered with their 1-0 friendly win over the Development Squad a week prior to this fixture. A Matt Smith (not that one) goal midway through the second half ensured victory for the Oxford side, who played some lush attacking football and effectively deployed all three substitutions. There was much for captain Tom Phelan to be pleased about, as his boys began the league campaign with 3 points.
The Development Squad took a credible 1-1 draw against Eton College, annoyingly missing out on the opportunity to inflict some real pain on the institution which inflicted PSY-parody ‘Eton Style’ upon the world. Whilst matching up a university team against a school side, this fixture always provides a challenge at the start of the season for the prospective cream of the Blues’ notional crop. With a dynamic 4-3-3 formation, the Oxford side, under the assured management of Alex Biggs, threatened with pace and power up front, which even a team of seasoned pros, let alone schoolboys would struggle to cope with.
Oxford dominated the early stages and took the lead on the quarter-hour mark when Chris Kneale-Jones nodded in a corner. Perhaps the goal should have waited, as Eton took control from then on, and their dictation of the match carried through into the second half. With 25 minutes left to play, the equaliser came for Eton. A promising second match for an Oxford side with seven new faces in the starting line-up.