Oxford 5 – 0 Cambridge
Playing off the back of a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Spencer Women’s firsts the previous weekend, the Women’s hockey Blues were in need of a win last Wednesday when they played host to Cambridge in both teams’ final meeting before their upcoming Varsity match.
The Blues have already had a highly successful 2012/13 season which has seen them defeat the likes of Bath and Bristol, and has earned them an impressive second place in the South Premiership BUCS League.
Despite freezing temperatures Iffley Road Astroturf pitch was lined with spectators eagerly anticipating an exciting pre-Varsity clash and they were not disappointed.
The Blues came under pressure early on, but Katherine Mackay and Lucy Durrans put up a strong defence at the back. Eight minutes in, a short corner led to a powerful shot from midfielder Izzy Wray, which was deflected over the opposition’s keeper into the Cambridge goal. This was quickly followed by another well-struck shot from Steph Baxter which flew past the Cambridge keeper, putting the Blues two goals up within the first fifteen minutes.
Despite a confident start, the Blues began to look a little nervous and some indecisive playing meant that small mistakes were made. Cambridge narrowly missed out on scoring opportunities and at one point a shot from a penalty corner deflected off the post, much to the relief of the Oxford supporters. Blues keeper Ellie Johnston did well to keep Cambridge from scoring with some brave saves towards the end of the second half. Luckily, attacker Amy Ricketts profited from a short corner not long before half time, meaning the Blues could breathe a lot easier, but were by no means out of the woods.
At half time, the Blues coach gathered his team in the goal at the far end of the pitch, leaving the assorted media unable to hear the wisdom he imparted, but it had an obvious effect on the girls who came out storming in the second half and scored almost immediately after the pushback. Not long after, a series of short corners at the Cambridge end resulted in a second goal from Izzy Wray. Later a groan ran through the Oxford supporters when a fantastic run from Hannah Petho ended in a neat back pass which her fellow attacker narrowly missed out on converting into yet another goal. Seconds afterwards, a burst of pace from Ellie Bath put Cambridge on edge once again and provoked further oohing from the crowd. Cambridge continued to be unlucky with their shooting and were unable to convert their chances into goals, leaving the final score at 5-0.
Although the score line suggests a landslide victory, the teams were actually very well matched and possession was fairly even between them, despite reports claiming that five of Cambridge’s players were actually from the university’s second team. In the end however, it was the Blues’ superior finishing ability that gave them the edge, surely a promising sign in light of next month’s all-important Varsity match.