CHERWELL school pitches are often the venue for hard fought conker fights, although they have rarely witnessed a battle of this intensity.
Before the game, both sides were eager to climb up the table, having dropped points in their first two games. In reality, this determination resulted in a scrappy affair, with neither side content with the eventual 2-2 score line.
The match was played with an astounding physicality, with Teddy Hall’s eager midfield assuming early dominance over their opponents. Following a strong tackle from Hall captain John Waldron, Mike Sopp was able to put the away side in to the lead, capitalising on a moment of hesitancy from the Wadham keeper. Despite the home side maintaining possession, Hall continued to pose difficulties, with Frost and Clarfelt missing well-crafted opportunities on the counter attack.
At the other end Hall’s goalkeeper, Nicola Ielpo, was proving to be a greater obstacle than his size would suggest. His commanding presence dominated his modest surroundings, and his full stretch dive saved a powerful shot from Bruno Versailles, only minutes after Hall had earned the lead.
Ielpo is comparatively small for a goalkeeper, although he is undoubtedly used to the bigger stage, having once played in the San Siro Stadium in Milan. With the experienced pairing of Waldron and Lefanu in front of him, he will not expect to concede too many goals this season, providing his team do not fall foul of the complacency that led to Wadham equalising before half time.
Teddy Hall restored their lead quickly after the break, when a well weighted through ball awoke sleeping giant, Wilfred Frost. The hit man responded with a perfect finish, tapping the ball passed the Wadham keeper to make it 2-1.
Having gained the lead once again, captain John Waldron will bemoan the second wave of complacency that broke over Hall. Instead of pushing forward for another goal, the Hall players allowed Wadham to gain momentum, before proving incapable of preventing Bruno Versailles from poking the ball over Ielpo’s outstretched arms.
Following Wadham’s goal, the tension between the two sides heightened, with neither willing to accept a point apiece. In between a series of fouls (most of which were committed by Hall’s right back), there were further chances at either end. Wadham’s keeper was fortunate in seeing the ball bounce off his crossbar and on to his head, before going out of play, whilst Versailles’ long range effort came perilously close to clinching the lead in the dying seconds. Wadham will regret wasting late opportunities to gain all three points, particularly as are set to face a very confident St. Anne’s on Friday. Teddy Hall, on the other hand, will hope to hang on to their keeper for all college fixtures, although it seems likely that he will abandon college level sport to appear in a university shirt before too long.