College football – The Tab predicts this season’s favourites

In the second half of this two-part feature, the Tab looks at the teams who could perform well in this season’s college football league.

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Pembroke

If last season’s form is anything to go by, Pembroke will be an extremely difficult opponent for anybody after losing only once – in Cuppers final 4-3 to Jesus – all season. Despite losing Blues keeper Fergus Kent and inspirational skipper Rory Scott, Pembroke have retained prolific striker Marcus Nielsen who struck over 20 goals in his debut season including one in the Kestrel’s Varsity match. If he continues to get the service this season, Pembroke will surely continue to win games on the basis of their attacking strength and could push for a top half finish or even a title push in their first season back in the top flight, as Trinity Hall did last season.

Tab prediction: 5th

Caius

Caius could rightly be called the ‘Arsenal’ of college football after last season’s performance; after a blistering opening half of the season, including 7 straight wins during a magnificent run of form, things tailed off in both the league and in Cuppers. Trinity Hall managed to pip Caius to the title and a dangerous Pembroke side knocked Caius out 2-0 in Cuppers semi-final. Under the leadership of Will Pithers Caius will be hoping to go one better this season, but in order to do so they will need to keep Chris Jammer fit at the back and hope that Rhys Spence hits the back of the net regularly to supplement the goals of forward Nikos Yerolemou.

Tab prediction: 4th

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Can’t match their socks. Can they match expectations?

Trinity Hall

Last season’s champions will not give up their title without a fight but retaining the league has proven to be a difficult task in college football with the high turnover of players year on year. Trinity Hall were the surprise package last season, flying out the blocks with three wins in their opening three league matches without conceding. Their end of season form was less convincing but they showed the mental resilience to beat Caius 1-0 in what was effectively the title decider and end the season on top of the pile. To have another good season they will be relying on former Oxford university player Adam Fellows and hope that their strike-force produces a similar return to last year. Losing last year’s top scorer Augustus Lewis and last year’s captain Patrick Fee will be a loss but retaining centre-backs Gino Engle and Nick Hands gives Trinity Hall a good base to build from.

Tab prediction: 3rd

St. John’s

Despite coming in second place in Division 2 last season, there is an atmosphere of expectancy surrounding Johns this year. With a strong midfield including the likes of Martin Letrilliart and the maverick talent of Andrea Filippa, it will take a lot to break down this outfit, especially with the experience of Nick Hilton at the back. John’s are not short of options up front either, with Alex Gaskell proving his worth last year in his debut season. They should not be underestimated in Cuppers either; if John’s manage to stay in until the latter rounds they will have a good chance with Blues striker Daniel Forde due to return from injury around the turn of the year.

Tab prediction: 2nd

Jesus

The college which has lost the fewest players and that is therefore an obvious contender for a title-push following a solid league campaign and a dramatic Cuppers victory last season. Jesus are a powerful outfit with one of the tallest teams in the division, but they are not short of skill either; Jack Anderson up front enjoyed a stunning season scoring just over a goal a game to help Jesus sustain their good form. Big things are also expected of Ritchie Ashmead in his second season for the team to add to the consistent performances of the likes of midfielder Andreas Müllertz. Expect Jesus to potent from the full-backs position too, with the pace and energy of Preye Crooks one of the most dangerous aspects of Jesus’ play.

Tab prediction: 1st

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Jesus – is more silverware on the cards?