Will Boyer and Matt Handley reflect on a mixed week for the Blues sides
After taking all three points in their first BUCS league match of the season, last Wednesday the Centaurs welcomed Aston University ’s 1st team. Hoping to build on last week’s success, they took to the pristine Iffley Road pitch, yet to be torn up this season, having hosted few matches so far. From the outset, the Dark Blues were strong and had most of the possession, with the wingers and strikers in a terrorising mood; most notably Andrea Caio, who beat his man every time.
After fifteen minutes centre-back, Michael Moneke, had two shots cleared off the line before Matt Smith (not that one) headed just wide of the far post. Two minutes later, from exactly the same position, a Smith header was scrambled off of the goal line, after Caio whipped a good cross in behind the Aston backline.
Midway through the first half, the Centaurs’ domination paid off, as Smith found space inside the box and slotted a composed finish into the bottom corner. Oxford initially failed to build on this lead, even though Smith and captain Tom Phelan both went close.
The best chance of the half occurred when an Aston corner was not dealt with by the defence, and a snapshot from the edge of the box was deflected wide.
With twenty minutes remaining, Oxford very nearly doubled their lead. A moment of excellence from right back Dan Williams provided the opportunity; an absolute delight to watch. From just inside the Aston half, Williams played an inch-perfect diagonal ball over the defence for Heardman to bring down and lift the ball exquisitely towards the top corner, beating the keeper, but not the post.
Soon enough, Oxford got their deserved second goal. Forward Nick Carlon picked himself up after being fouled inside the box to calmly dispatch a penalty into the bottom left corner of the goal. And with five minutes to play, Carlon put the result beyond any shadow of a doubt as he danced through a number of Aston defenders, rounded the goalkeeper and finished off with a Messi-esque dink into the middle of the goal.
Still time for Aston to grab a late consolation though, as a free kick was spilled by Mauro Ramos Pereira in the Oxford goal, for the striker to tap in at the far post.
As the Second XI nabbed this vital win, the men’s Blues were continuing their unbeaten start with a 5-4 victory over Lincoln University that provided sufficient thrills to compensate for the egregious distance that the fixture compelled them to travel. Sam Donald, Julian Austin and Ben May all got on the scoresheet, extending a lethal scoring spree that has seen the triumvirate share 20 goals so far this season. Captain Donald Garners special praise for the double-landmark of scoring his 70th goal in his 100th game.
The Women’s Blues were less fortunate against Nottingham Trent , losing 6-1. In the land of Robin Hood, the Oxford side were 3-0 down inside 20 minutes, as the home team robbed from the rich and gave to the score. Despite some improved defending, Trent soon grabbed a fourth. Laura Jennings pulled one back before half time (Friar) tucking away tidily; however it was to be ‘naught’ but a consolation, as the home side added two more in the second half to complete the rout. After two defeats in two games, Oxford will hope for a change in fortunes before next week’s clash with Cambridge.