Poor Blues tied up in Notts

Oxford were left disappointed following a keenly-contested title decider against Nottingham 1st’s on Saturday. Two goals apiece from Toogood and Kelly had seen Oxford triumph over Nottingham 2nd’s 5-1 the previous week, and they were in high spirits going into the game. Nottingham 1st’s meanwhile were placed two points ahead of Oxford meaning that they only need to avoid defeat in order to seal the title.
Two changes were made from the line-up against Nottingham 2nd’s, Zagajewski and de Walden replacing Kelly and Desai. Oxford started the brighter of the two sides in a nervous opening, with Zagajewski racing past both the full-back and centre-back before crossing, narrowly failing to find Toogood in the area. This however was a rare chance in a first half-hour played out largely in the middle of the park. The first major chance of the game fell to de Walden, after neat work between McCrickerd and Toogood, but the striker’s shot fell agonisingly wide of the post.
This seemed to act as a wake up call to Nottingham and they began causing trouble, particularly with the link up play between their strikers. However it was Oxford’s hesitation in defence which cost them the first goal, failing to clear a ball which rebounded to a Nottingham striker who had the simplest of touches to open the scoring. Things were to get much worse only a few minutes later, full-back Farr bringing down the opposing winger inside the box to give Nottingham the opportunity to double their lead. Despite Whylly guessing correctly and getting a strong hand to the penalty, he was unable to prevent a second goal and Oxford trailed 2-0 at half-time.
Knowing that three goals were required to win Oxford pressed higher up the pitch and began taking more chances as they looked to claw back the deficit. To Nottingham’s credit however they were more than up to the task, and their centre-backs were dominant in the air, not allowing Oxford any time on the ball. Chances were few and far between, and despite the introduction of Desai and Hall, Oxford they never looked like winning the game. However the Blues showed spirit in refusing to give up, and right up until the final whistle were searching for goals, Toogood and de Walden having efforts blocked within the last 5 minutes. It was not to be however, and as the final whistle blew, Nottingham celebrated wining the league title, leaving Oxford to reflect on an ultimately disappointing performance.
The Blues will now concentrate on their build-up to Varsity on Sunday 29th March, with the squad keen to right last year’s wrongs. Before this they still have the BUSA Trophy to look forward to in which they will be considered a serious contender to progress to the latter stages.