Blues vs University of Coventry

FOOTBALL: Danny Kerrigan nets a hat-trick as the Blues start the term in style

4-2 Blues football CUAFC Danny Kay football game hat-trick Paul Hartley result rupert mercer University of Coventry

The Blues began their term in style with a convincing win against BUCS rivals University of Coventry as striker Danny Kerrigan bagged a hat-trick.

Until his substitution on 60 minutes, Kerrigan gave the Coventry backline a torrid time with sharp movement and finishing even sharper, indeed if his second, bundled in as he challenged the ‘keeper, came off his left boot he can lay claim to a perfect hat-trick.

The long Christmas break had clearly taken its toll on the Blues sharpness as they started sluggishly, struggling to get on the ball an inviting a dynamic Coventry midfield onto them. Indeed they were lucky to stay on level terms when their opponents slammed a free-kick into the bar from fully 35 yards after ten minutes.

Coventry’s goal was not long in coming, however. A clipped ball came into the feet of their totemic number 9 and a neat first touch helped him steal a yard on Chris Peacock down the right-hand channel. He then preceded to slam a low cross behind the Light Blue defence where the left winger’s late run presented him with an easy finish.

Coventry nearly had another after Rory Griffiths could only deflect a low cross into the box where the ball was scrambled narrowly wide of the right-hand upright.

From that moment, however, Cambridge began to assert themselves on the game, captain Paul Hartley gradually working himself time in the centre of the park and wingers Griffiths and Rick Totten their usual direct selves.

Two good chances came and went, first Haitham Sherif had a shot headed out from under the bar (unfortunately denying The Tab the ‘High Shot the Sherif’ headline it has been craving), before Hartley could only shoot at the ‘keeper after Sherif found him in space.

But the goal was not long in coming and it was a simple one, a whipped cross from Griffiths on the left met on the dive by Kerrigan and a deserved reward for their pressure.

Coventry restart after conceding the first equaliser

Just when it looked like Cambridge would turn on the afterburners, dominating the play after their goal, Coventry recaptured the lead. The goal was similar to their first, a low cross met by a late run, this time from their combative captain Matt Bannister.

Despite the set back Cambridge were not deflated and responded straight away to cap a frantic end to the first half. The excellent Ant Childs chipped the ball over the full-back for Sherif to chase. This he did enthusiastically, muscling his way onto the ball before squaring for Kerrigan to jam his second under the onrushing goalie.

Although they went in level at half-time there was a feeling that Cambridge had the measure of their opponents and so it proved in a second half that was only ever going one way.

Kerrigan, Sherif and Rutt (left to right) leave the field after an exciting first period

The Blues started at a frantic pace, Kerrigan stretching the defence all over the place in search of the lead. It came in the form of a perfectly executed counter-attack, orchestrated by James May who picked up the ball after a corner, before driving at the Coventry backline. Having forced them back towards the 18 yard box he slid Dan Forde, on in the place of Sherif, in down the right. His cut back found May again and he had the presence of mind to look up and find Kerrigan who hammered home high into the net to complete his hat-trick.

This seemed to knock the stuffing out of Coventry and Forde’s fourth was down to poor defending. Mark Baxter came off the bench and with his first touches danced in from the left and picked out the striker, between the centre-backs in acres of space. He rifled in with the minimum of fuss and left the team to see out the remaining 20 minutes in comfort.

After an understandably slow start, this represented an excellent first game of the term for the Blues. Their wing play was typically excellent but they did miss vice captain Ross Broadway whose absence could be telling as the season progresses. However, with Kerrigan in this sort of form and ‘keeper Lars Boyde back from Germany the Light Blues will be gaining confidence that they can avenge last year’s defeat when Varsity comes around.

Speaking to The Tab after the game, captain Paul Hartley said, “Today was all about getting a result for us, with Coventry our closest rivals in the league it was vital we got a win to extend our lead at the top. I thought the football we played was excellent and we maintained it for the whole 90 minutes. We created far more chances than Coventry were able to and our superior fitness gave us the edge. There’s a few things to work on on the defensive front going into next week’s game as it was disappointing to concede in the way we did. All in all though, a fantastic start to this term’s football.”