New 0 – 0 Wadham
With New College among the favourites, to take this year’s title and Wadham newly promoted, one could be mistaken for thinking the only thing close between the two, is the short walk down Hollywell Street.
But for New, without a single training session under their polyester drawstrings, what should have been a walk in the park, turned to war of attrition, where second touches were a luxury. They appeared ring rusty and struggled to gel, resorting to route one from the kick off.
This tactic gave New the upper hand in the opening exchanges, with Wadham initially trying to pass the ball around on the deck, but they soon switched to clearing their lines by hoofing it long before the home side fashioned the first chances of the match. A shot by New’s left winger, James Sutton, was deflected behind for a corner, which resulted in a header going wide at the back post.
But as Wadham worked their way into the match, it became an intense and scrappy affair, with tackles flying in from all angles, players from both sides being afforded little time on the ball and no one managing to string three or four passes together. Both sides traded speculative pot shots at goal, but still the ‘keepers were seldom tested. At times they made work for themselves, a poor goal kick from New stopper Sam Evans falling straight to a Wadham attacker who beat the 'keeper, but also the far post.
Set pieces appeared to be the best chance of troubling the score, with both sides creating a reasonable amount of havoc in the opposing penalty boxes. New threatened to break the deadlock, and would have done if it wasn’t for two woeful misses towards the end of the first half. The first of which came when captain Robin Cantwell managed to miss from eight yards out and the second, as another Sutton cross from the left flank created more problems for the Wadham defence, led to the unmarked attacker’s shot somehow missing the far post.
Any hopes that the second half would be an improvement were soon dispelled as both sides appeared to play for territory, with defences consistently opting to kick and chase and the increasingly weary forwards bearing the brunt of the work. And it was this tactic which appeared to end any chance of one side leaving with all three points, both sets of attackers gave up on chasing lost causes, and relieving defenders of any extra pressure.
Both sides did, however, have late chances to snatch the win. With Mazdak Sani latching on a through ball he beat the defender for pace, but could only find the side netting. Then New started to push Wadham back in their own half, and created the best chance of the game, where another cross from the left came in and the otherwise excellent, Tommy Stadlen, couldn’t beat the Wadham No.1 from six yards.
Both sides will have thought they could have snatched the maximum, but a draw was the deserved result, with neither side doing enough in front of goal, and all twenty two players showing their lack of match practice after the summer break, and the fortunes of these two teams and their spectators, that had better be true.