Magdalen hosted St Catherine’s in the 5th Week of the JCR Premier Division, with both teams looking for an important victory in much contrasting circumstances. Having conceded 9 and thus scored 0 so far, the home team were desperately in need of a win to kick-start some kind of turnaround to what has proved a disastrous start to the season. Catz, on the other hand, were looking to keep the pressure up on first-placed Exeter with another 3 points.
The game started as a scrappy affair, with Catz unable to assert control due to dogged harassment from the Magdalen midfielders. As the first half drew to a close the Catz pressure mounted but Magdalen coped admirably, particularly with the aerial bombardment from Kevin Weiss – Catz’s answer to Rory Delap.Eventually, in the second half, Magdalen resistance was broken: Joe Davies got round the defence to slide a square ball across to a predatory Chris Lambert, who tapped into an empty net from 3 yards out. 20 minutes later Davies got the reward his endeavours deserved when James Gibson floated a perfect cross into the box for the Catz striker to head home.
The result leaves Catz with 9 points from 4 games, sitting in second place behind Exeter, who continued their perfect start with a 3-0 win against Wadham. Magdalen remain bottom, but they should take heart from a gritty performance that shows there’s still hope of avoiding relegation.
Premier Division pace-setters Exeter continued their impressive start to the season as they stormed to a comfortable 3-0 victory over defending champions Wadham. Despite the absence of influential ex-captain and centre-back, Chris Bennett (denied the chance to break his personal scoring duck stretching to 1060 minutes), Exeter produced another resolute defensive display to ensure they enter their crunch Cuppers tie against Worcester next week full of confidence.
The first half was a tight affair, with Exeter shading the early exchanges as Blues player Ben May crashed a 35-yard strike against the crossbar via the keeper’s fingers. Adam Halewood then created a couple of chances but a cross eluded strike partner Charles Cooper and another effort was prodded wide. Wadham’s best chance came just before the break but birthday boy Jack O’Mahoney was alert and tipped an effort onto the post.
The referee was keen to start the second half quickly and it was Exeter who were fastest out of the blocks. Ten minutes after the break, assist king Manesh Mistry took his personal tally for the season to 12 with a cross that found Cooper who then beat the approaching Wadham keeper to the ball and nodded it into the open net. Wadham created occasional chances on the break but the new centre-back partnership of Dale and Sandy Clark held firm.Exeter were denied a strong penalty shot when Halewood was fouled in the box.
However, soon after, and only 15 minutes from full time, Ben May kept up his impressive record of scoring in every game. An incisive through ball from Cooper allowed May to casually round the keeper and a defender on the line to seal the win.Exeter fans will be hoping this impressive victory gives their team vital momentum for next Friday’s mouthwatering Cuppers showdown, giving themselves a great chance of an historic double.They are certainly in a very strong position at present, especially with the much-anticipated Lincoln verses Worcester match being postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.