FOOTBALL: The Blues continue their charge towards a BUCS league title as MICHAEL ALHADEFF freezes his nuts off.
The Blues avoided freezing in Arctic conditions on Wednesday. Just. Despite being the superior team and holding a two goal advantage for most of the second half, the Blues were forced to hang on after conceding a late goal.
A victory is a victory though and an important one at that. It helps the Blues extend their lead at the top of their BUCS league to four points and brings skipper Hartley one step closer to achieving his ‘number one priority.’
The Blues experienced some warm weather training in La Manga over Christmas which must have seemed a distant memory while they were warming up on Fitz pitches. There was sun and blue sky, but the thermometer was barely in positive digits. Despite this, the teams started positively with both looking to get their feet on the ball.
Winter training on the continent was a distant memory
It was the Blues who started strongly; showing good movement and composure on the ball. It has been a feature of recent years of Blues sides to look comfortable on the ball but then lack the final product. Unfortunately, it was the same again as the Blues failed to carve out clear-cut chances. Sherif looked impressive, his power and pace offering up chances, but he failed to find the back of the net. The forced withdrawal of Kerrigan at half-time did nothing for the Blues’ strike options.
The way they play often leaves the Blues open to the sucker punch, which is exactly what happened here. A rare foray up the field by Northampton earned them a free-kick on the edge of the area. It should have been a regulation catch for stand-in keeper Kent, but a fumble allowed the ball to be squeezed into the corner.
The Blues responded immediately and Northampton’s lead was short-lived. A powerful run and shot by May brought the teams back level. May showed poise throughout the game and looks an able replacement in the absence of Broadway. For all their dominance of the half, the Blues found themselves back at square one at half time.
Once play resumed, the Blues looked like they had a renewed purpose, determined not to see more chances wasted. The Blues took the lead with a stunner as a sweetly struck ball by Rutt found its target. The Blues looked like they had finally wrested control of the game with a third by Totten adding that bit of security. It was rich reward for the winger whose width and pace gives the Blues plenty of options. As it turned out, the goal was necessary security.
More lax defending, this time from a corner allowed Northampton back into the game. Failing to get the ball away, Northampton took their opportunity to set up a nervy finish. Luckily, the Blues showed coolness to hold on for the victory.
Next up: Blues against U’s
The Blues now turn their attention to the revived Addenbrooke’s Cup fixture on Wednesday. The team take a break from their league title challenge to play a Cambridge United XI at Grange Road, with all profits going to the Cambridge Sports and Exercise Medicine Unit at Addenbrooke’s.
The fixture returns to the calendar after an absence of a decade and will provide a stern test for the Blues, who are stepping up their preparations for Varsity on March 13th. Captain Paul Hartley believes “the opportunity to test ourselves against professional players is great for our development” and will be hoping to lead the Blues to their first silverware of an exciting term. Tickets for the football edition of ‘Town vs. Gown’ cost £3 and the game kicks off at 7pm.
Photographs courtesy of Shaun Brooks