Football: Caius Locked in Draw with Jesus

Two title contenders share the points after a close battle.

caius cuafl danny mcGrath football jesus maini nikos preye crooks Purcell


Two much fancied sides provided a thrilling 1-1 draw under the autumn sun, in a match that could have had far reaching consequences in this year’s title race.

The pressure of the occassion seemed to manifest itself in some nervous opening play, with both sides content to allow the back four to simply stroke it around. Soon enough however, much of the play was directed down one side of the pitch, with opposing full backs Preye Crooks, of Jesus, and Matt Reizenstein, of Caius, impressing for either side.

This game certainly looked like an opening day fixture, as both sides lacked the quality on the ball of a fully fit team. With touch and finesse largely absent, physicality was the key feature of the first half, as Jesus’ Udi Gabbai was matched tackle for tackle by the imposing figure of Noah Isserman. Width evaporated as both sets of wingers were drawn ever closer into the five-man midfield deployed by both sides, and it took a piece of sheer brilliance from Caius forward Nikos Yerolemou to break the stalemate.

Lining up a freekick 30 yards out, he hammered the ball with swerve and accuracy into Justin Maini’s top right corner. Maini was blinded by the sun, although in fairness it would have taken an equally spectacular save to keep it out.

The hosts looked to hit back, Olly Juggins showing deftness of feet in finding space for a low drive which was well kept saved. In fact Juggins was Jesus’ main attacking threat, playing a well-weighted through ball to create a one on one , but Caius’ keeper showed bravery to dive at the feet of the attacker.

At the other end Maini had to be equally brave to make a tackle outside his box following a short backpass, in an incident that rather summed up a frantic, scrappy first half.

The second half was a different affair – with Caius weakened in midfield after the withdrawal of Isserman, Jesus were able to get the ball down and play more expansive, attacking football, with Crooks again impressing from left-back.

Jesus piled on the pressure and had a penalty appeal turned down, followed by a yellow card for dissent as the frustrations grew. A misdirected cross contrived to strike the post, while captain Niall Purcell hit the woodwork from close range. Caius, with their threatening attack, looked dangerous on the break, hitting the bar with a speculative effort before Maini excellently denied Yerolemou a second goal when put through one on one.

Eventually, the Caius defence was breached, as Purcell kept his cool sliding in at the back post. The tie could have been won at the death, but more composure was needed as the Jesus forward blazed over from 10 yards when it looked easier to score.

Tab Verdict: Jesus can take heart from their impressive second half display, but in reality will be disappointed with the result. Caius will take the point, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if these two teams are slugging it out at the top of the table ina few weeks time.

Check out our full College Football round up later today.