The distance between Oxford and Edinburgh is 366 miles which, according to Google maps, is a 6 hour 27 minute drive. This is the journey now facing the Edinburgh University hockey team, with only the memory of a thrashing by an Oxford side superior in every department to occupy them as they work their way along the M6. The Blues now move into the last 8 of the BUCS cup, and given their strong recent form they will be confident they can go even further.
Before the game started coach John Shaw admitted that his side were probably favourites, but clearly did not want any complacency to spread into his team. He needn’t have worried however as Oxford began with a great intensity, winning a short corner within the first minute. This was repelled by the Edinburgh keeper, but the Blues were dominant and could not be kept at bay for long and a neat move was finished by the impressive Chris Newman to give his side a deserved lead.
Edinburgh were almost immediately on level terms, but a strong shot was brilliantly kept out by the Oxford custodian Matt Beggs. The Edinburgh attacker shouted his frustration at this save, prompting one of the women’s blues watching from the touchline to blurt out, “Oh my God, he’s Scottish.” Thankfully the Oxford players on the pitch were less distracted by the remarkable occurrence of a Scotsman playing for a Scottish university and soon extended their lead. Good work from Alex Evans set up a chance for Adam Jordan which he dispatched into the corner.
A third goal, this time a Jordan strike from a short corner, soon followed and from that moment the result never seemed in doubt. Despite green cards (like yellow cards but less bad) for Will Devitt and Omar Islam Oxford were still comfortably keeping out any Edinburgh attack and looked dangerous every time they moved forward. Jordan, who was striking fear into the Edinburgh defenders every time he got near the ball, completed a first half hat trick to put his side 4 nil to the good shortly before half time. Edinburgh did pull a goal back just before the interval after a controversially awarded short corner was converted. You could tell from the way that the Edinburgh players celebrated the goal however that they had very little faith in their ability to bring about a stunning comeback.
Unfortunately the process of buying a sausage baguette during the half time interval took a little longer than I anticipated so I missed the start of the second half. When I returned, baguette in hand, I was informed that another Oxford goal had gone in to put them into a surely unassailable 5-1 lead. With the game effectively over the intensity dropped, as did the interesting action. Conversation on the touchline revolved around the headline I should use for this article. One of the waiting female players suggested the crude but effective, ‘Scotland is worse than England.’ It certainly would have got the reader’s attention.
A further reason for the decrease in action was a lengthy stoppage as Paul Walker attempted to stop blood gushing from his head following a collision with an opponent’s stick (an accidental collision, I assure you). Despite ruining a nice looking OUHC t-shirt in stemming the flow of the blood, it thankfully did not seem that serious an injury. I have noticed in my two assignments at the hockey pitch this term however that it is a fairly dangerous sport. During the two games I have witnessed two people get their heads cut open, one get concussed and another break her finger in three places. It truly isn’t a game for the faint hearted.
Oxford began playing some attractive hockey as the game neared its conclusion. The highlight of this was when Newman began a flowing move deep in his own half which he then converted himself to score Oxford’s sixth. A strong run from Tom Scott set up Jordan for another goal, the striker this time blasting the ball into the room of the net from close range. A lapse in concentration in defence allowed Edinburgh a second consolation goal shortly before the final whistle, giving a final score of 7-2, which perhaps did not even do justice to the Blues’ dominance. For Oxford the quarter finals await, for Edinburgh the only highlight on their horizon will be a cheeky Burger King at the motorway services on the way long home.