The Blues take on Oxford Brookes on Friday at a floodlit Iffley Road Stadium, seeking a second consecutive Xchanging Brookes Varsity Match victory. The fixture takes on extra significance tonight as it also doubles as the Blues’ home league fixture against their noisy neighbours. A last-gasp 2-1 comeback on the first day of the season back in October has proved the catalyst for the Blues to remain unbeaten in competitive fixtures all season, and they lie top of BUCS Midlands 2A, four points clear of their nearest rivals Brookes. Defender Ben May is certain Brookes will be seeking revenge: “As this is the biggest game that most of the Brookes players will play in their lives, we cannot expect anything less than when we played them earlier on in the season… if we play the football we know we can, spoiling the Brookes party should be no problem.”
A Dark Blue victory in their first game of a snow-hit term would be a strong statement of intent to the rest of the league that the Blues intend to win promotion in style this season. Despite a comfortable 2-0 victory in last year’s inaugural Brookes Varsity, the home outfit will be taking nothing for granted tonight, and captain Sam Donald is pleased with how his team looks as they gear up for the game: “Although preparations have been compromised by the snow, the quality and work shown in the sessions we have had have been very encouraging. We started poorly in our league game against Brookes last term but showed great character to come back, and this time we’ll hope to marry that strength of character with a fast start and continue our 100% record in the league.”
A crowd upwards of 400 people is anticipated, and the Blues will be hopeful for a strong home contingent to compete with the boisterous away support Brookes will undoubtedly bring. Last year the Brookes fans were irrepressibly loud, undeterred by ex-captain Julian Austin’s unanswered brace. It is a chance to settle scores both on and off the pitch, as midfielder Casey O’Brien acknowledges: “I’ve spent many a lonely walk home from Fuzzy Ducks thanks to this lot. Friday is a chance to put it right.” The added dimension of the Xchanging Brookes Varsity Match doubling as a BUCS league game lends a unique intrigue to the match also, and piles pressure on the away side to get a result in normal time. Striker Peder Beck-Friis, appearing in his first English derby match, is fully aware of the magnitude of the game: “It’s imperative that we keep our winning streak in competitive games leading up to the Varsity game against Cambridge later on in the spring.”
With KO at 7 p.m., and a few musical surprises planned to please the fans, Friday evening promises to be an exciting event from the off, and both teams are sure to be looking forward to the opportunity to play under floodlights in front of a lively crowd.