FOOTBALL: RUPERT MERCER watches the Blues turn over the Old Boys to make it three on the trot.
Blues 3-2 Old Boys
The Football Blues continued their good form on Sunday, turning over the players of yesteryear by a 3-2 scoreline that did no justice to the extent of their dominance.
Of course they were always going to form a more coherent unit than their counterparts, having played together all season, but there was enough quality in the opposition ranks to represent a real threat to Paul Hartley’s men.
The Blues started at a frantic pace, denying the Old Boys any time to find a rhythm. Ross Broadway, captain for the day, started outstandingly in the centre of midfield, necessarily because George Hill at his side was struggling to influence proceedings.
Back row (left to right): Broadway (c), Rutt, Childes, Karakashian, Davis, Day, Ford
Front row: Peacock, Griffiths, Hill, Totten
Both wingers, Rick Totten and Rory Griffiths, were making headway against their opposite numbers while the back four were dominant – particularly in the air. James Rutt was particularly impressive in the left-back position he has occupied this season
It was Rutt who instigated the move which put the Blues in front, getting his head up to switch the ball to Ant Childes, the right-back on the opposite flank who curled a dangerous ball in behind the defence. In the box Griffiths got on the wrong side of his man and put the Blues into a 1-0 lead with a diving header.
Once they had the advantage, Cambridge began to sit back and the Old Boys began to create chances. First Totten fluffed a simple front post clearance from a corner, engendering panic in the box, then Childes miscued a pass and set his man through on the defence. Only a wonderful challenge from Rutt kept the Blues in the ascendancy.
Blues of yore
Chris Peacock and Kai Davis then combined to send Griffiths clear for the chance to double his and Cambridge’s tally but the winger couldn’t control his side-footed lob.
Cambridge were soon left ruing their profligacy as the Old Boys hit them with two quick-fire goals.
The first was a moment that last year’s captain, James Day, will want to forget, after he was dragged out of position, lost the header and then watched as Denis Radchenko moved into the space behind to slam home. Minutes later it was two after Alex Mugen curled a free-kick off the inside of the post and the Blues found themselves behind in a match they had been dominating.
However, the response was almost instantaneous and it was Broadway and Griffiths who were at the centre of things again. The skipper spread it wide where Griffiths slammed a shot off the post. It fell into Totten’s path three yards out and he made no mistake.
The Old Boys had no answer and the same two combined again to give Cambridge the lead just before the break. Broadway attempted the chip through-ball, and Griffiths lobbed the ‘keeper from the same position he had wasted earlier in the game.
The second half could not match the first for a spectacle. Stock, who famously bagged four for the Light Blues in a Craven Cottage Varsity Match gave this year’s troops some problems but neither side looked particularly like scoring. Broadway was removed and Ant Childes moved into the centre where he had an excellent half, showing that maybe he and Broadway ought to share some game-time in midfield, while Dan Forde troubled the centre-backs without putting his chances away when they came.
Talking to The Tab after the game, Paul Hartley said: “We showed glimpses of the kind of football we can play and tried to play our passing game throughout which is encouraging. The winner scored by Griffiths was a testament to this passing style.
“Another positive was the performance of those who played their first games for the Blues. A number of lads came into the squad today having played well for the Falcons in recent weeks and none of them looked out of place.”
With another good win under their belts, the Blues will hope to press on with the good form they’ve shown in the BUCS League.