The OUAFC second XI tour saw 15 ‘Centaurs’ travel to Amsterdam for a six-day pre-Hilary workout. The side, which faces an uphill battle to improve its BUCS fortunes, returned home unbeaten following impressive performances against two strong Dutch sides.
The 4-0 victory in their opening game was arguably the team’s best performance of the season. The first international friendly pitted the OUAFC side against the prestigious Leiden University. Despite fears the opposition would be a typically technical Dutch side and the malevolence of a distinctly continental referee, Oxford came out as 4-0 winners.
It was an emphatic performance led by the three goals of Fred Howell on a pristine artificial surface that allowed for an expansive and free-flowing brand of football. Whilst Michaelmas BUCS results were disappointing for the Centaurs side, there is no doubting their talent, and their opening performance on Dutch soil was testament to that. Although the evening was straightforward for the touring side, Howell did endeavour to jeopardise Anglo-Dutch relations; a high boot left the Leiden centre-back needing stitches. All tension was seemingly diffused, though, as the Dutch side ended the evening by presenting Oxford with a parting gift: a European multi-socket plug.
The team’s second game saw the OUAFC outfit travel to Leiden once more, and an away draw to the impressive LSVV Football Factory ensured the Oxford side ended the tour unbeaten. In the first half, the Dutch side dominated possession, but an obstinate defensive performance and Howell’s fourth goal of the tour ensured the OUAFC outfit led going into the break. However, whilst Oxford moved through the gears impressively in the second half and actually began to control the game, LSVV struck from a corner 10 minutes from time and the score remained 1-1.
In his final team talk of the tour, captain Joe Fowles expressed his delight with the outcome of the two games. The Pembroke third-year had travelled hoping for “good game time and strong performances across the team”, and felt this had been achieved to a man: Callum Akass, the Keble finalist, was crowned ‘Man of the Tour’.
With six BUCS fixtures and an epic Varsity encounter forthcoming, the Oxford team could not have hoped for a better start to what could be a promising Hilary.