Football Varsity: Both Falcons and Kestrals take wins for Cambridge

Both the Falcons and Kestrals take Varisty wins for CUAFC in advance of the upcoming First Team Varsity match at Craven Cottage.

craven cottage CUAFC Falcons football harrison Kestrals light blue Varsity varsity match wins

Cambridge Falcons 3 – 2 Oxford Centaurs

Last Saturday saw the first of instalment of the 2014 Football Varsity matches, and the CUAFC faithful were not left disappointed. Homerton’s Ben Mack secured a dramatic Kestrel’s victory, curling an absolute worldy into the top corner from the edge of the box in extra time, adding to Marcus Nielsen’s goal in the first half. Whilst the Falcons decided to take last gasp to a new level, silencing the characteristic Oxford breeze from the sidelines and OUAFC Twitter account with 3 goals in 17 minutes to come from 2-0 down.

The Falcons started brightly, testing the wobbly Dark Blue backline, but it was Oxford who took thelead, as the left-winger, distracted by the Henry Warne’s fluorescent pink jersey and questionable haircut, shinned a cross that looped painfully into the Cambridge net. The Falcons responded and worked their way back into the match, with Sedlak hitting the bar and Yerolemou firing a volley just over.

However, the second half started disastrously for the Light Blues as a hopeful punt forward fell to the left winger who was not closed down in time and allowed to score the best goal (cross-cum-shot?) he’ll ever score, finding the net from 25 yards. Oxford’s Cruffyian footballing philosophy thenbegan to shine through, it’s a shame they took inspiration from Jordi rather than Johan though, and a period of pressure was absorbed by the Falcons’ defence. With 30 minutes to go a tactical change and the introduction of Dave Walker swung the game in the Light Blues’ favour. Walker’s high pressing, immense work-rate and measured playmaking freed up Grubic and Painter to get at the Dark Blues. It was a Grubic corner which offered Cambridge a reward, as Bogle glanced in a header, reminiscent of Roy Keane’s famous goal against Juventus, to catalyse a Light Blue comeback of epic proportions. The scores were soon level when a Dungay, who was sensational all game, free-kick ball fell to ex-OUAFC centre-back Rich Wolstenhulme, who hooked a shot into the top corner. Despite being a memorable equaliser it will be his celebration that goes down in the CUAFC folklore. Running over to the Oxford crowd Wolstenhulme pumped and kissed the Red Lion badge right in front of their shocked faces, burning all bridges with his former club, much to the delight of the vociferous Cambridge following. The drama wasn’t to end there. Five minutes from time a Yerolemou shot was parried only into the path of super-sub Alex Howorth who headed home, sparking an eruption of noise at Grange Road and allowing skipper Chris Fountain to tika-taka the trophy.

Cambridge University Kestrels 2 vs 1 Oxford University Development Squad

For the third time in four years the University 3rd counterparts in an enthralling fixture at Downing pitches. This is one of the most impressive Varsity victories you will hear of, considering the Oxford team play and train together all year, while the Cambridge side is selected in the weeks prior to the game from the college teams and they only had the chance to train together three times and play one friendly against the Falcons. 5 minutes in and you would have assumed that Cambridge had been the team that had played together all year. If it hadn’t have been for a freak Oxford goal and a few missed Cambridge chances the game would have been comfortably wrapped up before the final whistle. As it was, Oxford took the game to extra time after a huge bobble eluded keeper Harrison, who was a calming presence throughout, and the Oxford striker rolled the ball into the empty net.

In truth, the Cambridge defence dealt with the Oxford forwards for the majority of the game with ease. Queens’ CB Raffi Salama won every challenge and Jonny Crease was superb alongside him in only his third ever game at CB! Oxford’s apparent danger men, their wingers, struggled to get in the game, and were in fact pin backed by the attacking instincts of the Cambridge full backs. The biggest gap in quality was evident in Cambridge’s attacking third. Oxford’s overly ambitious insistence to play ‘tiki-taka’ football allowed the Kestrels front men to consistently force mistakes and win the ball high up the pitch. Dan Brown, Marcus McPhillips and captain on the day James Eales destroyed their opposing full backs with skill and pace at every opportunity.

The opening goal was calmly slotted home early in the first half by Marcus Nielsen, the leading scorer in college football this year, after good work by Dan Brown on the left. Oxford’s CBs struggled to deal with Marcus all game and he was unlucky to not double his tally as a lob went just wide of the post. A lot of credit should be given to the three man Cambridge midfield that controlled the centre of the pitch. Some massive challenges from Will GP early on let Oxford know what they were in for and as the game went on they all stuck to the game plan well of getting the ball out wide and up to Marcus as soon as possible, whilst also getting up to support at every opportunity.

With time ticking down in extra time Cambridge looked like the only team that could win it, and with two minutes left the winning goal was well worth the wait. A free kick was headed out to Ben Mack on the edge of the area, he controlled and set himself in one touch before curling the ball with little back lift into the top corner. The Oxford keeper had no chance. There was still time for a comic moment as Oxford’s Danny Mills turned to celebrate in front of the Cambridge support when he thought they had equalized. He was soon left red faced and planted his head in the floor as he realised the ball had gone over.