League opens with goalfest

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The college football season got off to a scorching start last Wednesday with twenty-five goals scored in the first four Premier League matches. The opening games in the First Division proved to be equally entertaining, with relegated Keble and promoted Lincoln proving that they have adjusted well to life in their new division. Newly promoted Jesus immediately made a name for themselves in the Premier devision. They treated the visiting Brasenose side to such a lesson in top flight football by a well-drilled Jesus team, that the 4-2 scoreline did the newly promoted side’s performance justice. Having flirted with relegation at the tail-end of last season, they now find themselves at the giddy heights of second in the league.It was a high spirited game in which both teams did well to overcome the challenges of wind, rain and a slopping pitch. The talents of Brasenose’s John Ditchburn and Jesus’s Graham Parrott shone through in particular on a dank Wednesday afternoon.Jesus set their stall early on, the aforementioned Parrott sending an unstoppable free kick past the Brasenose goalkeeper with just five minutes gone. The two-man Brasenose fanbase soon suffered further misery when Dave Knocker deftly slipped the ball into the right of the net.To their credit, Brasenose’s heads did not drop. Two minutes after Jesus’s second, Ditchburn punished the keeper’s indecision with a beautifully weighted lob. It was more of the same after the break. Gareth Bebb skipped past two defenders to finish neatly. Again, Brasenose struck back, the outstanding Ditchburn hitting a powerful shot which took a deflection on its way past the beleaguered keeper.Far from a tense finish, however, Jesus dominating the remaining period and only some last-ditch defending off two successive corners kept a tired Brasenose in the game. Shortly afterwards, however, Jesus’s Jack Wellby capitalised on a mix-up between goalkeeper and defender to score from the edge of the area, securing for Jesus three points and the right to hold their heads high in the Premier League. The exceptional performance of the first round, however, undoubtedly came from Worcester. A year ago Magdalen were the rulers of college football, and it was presumed that the new season would see the continued supremacy of the black and white stripes. However, rather than looking at another title challenge  Magdalen will face a lengthy struggle for survival. They have lost seven players over the summer and while Catz proved last year that it is possible to overcome a shaky start and still challenge, they never witnessed such a catastrophic result as this. In every aspect of the game Magdalen were outclassed, outfought and outthought. To describe it as one-sided would be to flatter the home side as it suggests two teams turned up. Worcester pressed Magdaeln ruthlessly, launching lightning attacks and appearing to cut them apart at will in a cavalier performance that should leave their title rivals cringing. But Worcester will not play a side as poor as Magdalen every week. The midfield was hungerless and the defence negligent. Magdalen established their fearsome reputation upon a powerfully built side capable of producing results, if not attractive football. However, that can no longer disguise an inherent lack of quality, or even a basic ability to read the game. Worcester were allowed to spray the ball with ease just 18 yards from Magdalen’s keeper while striker Alex Toogood wandered freely between the two central defenders. Goals looked likely during every attack as the home side cowered before Worcester’s rapier blades.The rout began with three minutes gone. Michael Hobbiss embarrassed right back Doug Kelly to win a corner from which Matt Roberts scored.Three minutes later Toogood launched himself on the hesitant back-line, blazed towards goal and lifted it over the keeper. A quarter of an hour gone and Toogood claimed his second. The inevitable fourth went to Worcester’s emperor. A corner from the right was missed by two defenders, as well as Hobbiss, and Beanland thumped it into the net. And in the best move of the match the visitors almost added a fifth before half time. Beautiful one-touch football between Lucian Weston and Toogood spread the defence. Weston had the chance to convert his own good work but he was unable to sidefoot in from six yards.If you’d had the urge to eavesdrop on Magdalen’s half-time team talk you would have heard the captain tell his side to ‘win the second half.’ Well, they only conceded three in the next 45 minutes which was a victory of sorts. Toogood secured his hat-trick with a splendid curled shot from the edge of the box and minutes later, with Magdalen failing to clear a harmless bouncing ball, Hobbiss’ volley sealed a fine captain’s performance.Magdalen’s humiliating performance was ended in the most fittingly humiliating fashion. Toogood’s miscued free-kick skipped round the wall, under the keeper and with a resounding ring like a death knell, squirmed off the post and into the back of the net. In a single game seven goals had passed what had been the most feared side of the top division: the balance of power has undergone a seismic shift and the fight for the crown is on.ARCHIVE: 2nd week MT 2005

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