Rout sends Oxford up to cloud nine

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Oxford 9 – 1 LeicesterAS THE dark clouds of October descended over Iffley Road, it seemed only the glaring pink jerseys of the two umpires could brighten up a gloomy afternoon.
Anyone who witnessed the opening exchanges could be forgiven for agreeing. Both sides managed to string a few passes together only for a poor touch, a foot or good honest defence to see the move break down. Early signs indicated that chances could be few and far between. But the Blues could be excused for not being at their most enthusiastic.
Having to trudge through the depths of the BUSA pyramid can be tedious, especially as games are often an unwelcome distraction from Southern Premier League fixtures that are played at weekends. After a 3-2 loss to Richmond on Saturday, Oxford will face Staines in their next non-BUSA fixture.
The scrappy opening was brought to an abrupt halt by a freak injury. On ten minutes David Cresswell tried to turn in Leicester’s  ‘D’, raising his stick to strike the ball but succeeding only in finding contact with a Leicester player’s head, leading to an ambulance call disrupting the flow of the game.
After the stoppage, the gulf in class between the two sides was suddenly there for all to see. The Leicester goal was now under siege, the Blues surging forward, making darting runs and finally asking a few questions of the Leicester stopper.
Oxford were being kept at bay, but it was only a matter of time until they broke the deadlock. In the nineteenth minute, a cross in front of the Leicester defence wasn’t dealt with properly, leaving Ivey to beat the keeper from eight metres out.
The home side didn’t rest on their laurels and pressed for more, short corner after short corner coming the way of the Blues, only for their efforts to be parried away. But a second was always on the cards, and it came from another short corner.
Cresswell’s shot was stopped by the keeper, but only as far as Molinari, who converted the simple tap in. A third also came from a short corner drilled in by Sibley,  but a well worked set piece by Leicester pulled one back just before the interval, following a rare foray into Oxford’s half.
That goal could have been the catalyst for a Leicester comeback, but it was the Blues who came out of the blocks fastest and reasserted their dominance after the break. Martin Pickup rifled one past the keeper and Mark Kindo tapped another in after successive short corners.
Short corners continued to cause havoc for the Leicester defence, Kindo profiting from one and claiming his second goal of the match. Brad Tucker added a seventh, before a late brace by Cresswell completed the rout.
There can be no doubting the way Oxford approached the game, but the Blues won’t have felt stretched or challenged. For now, the real tests for the hockey players come at the weekend.

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