TOUTED as potential winners of the Premier Division at the start of term, New College have since struggled to pull off an uninspiring draw against newly promoted Wadham and suffered a league-cup double defeat by Worcester. Brasenose, on the other hand, went into this fixture undefeated, with the prospect of a lengthy cup run still a possibility. With the New team weakened by "Freshers’ Flu", it was easy to see which side was the more relaxed.
The opening exchanges were scrappy, but not without incident at either end of the park. First, a deflected free kick gave Brasenose successive corners with New struggling to clear their lines, but soon after they started asking questions of the Brasenose defence. A speedy break by James Sutton on the left wing was ended only by a trip on the edge of the area. Much to the dismay of the New players, who thought they had a good shout for a penalty, the referee awarded a free kick which skipper Tom Howell could only drill into the wall.
As the game settled down Brasenose’s own brand of attractive football started to fashion openings, but they still failed to take advantage of them. As the interval approached, however, Brasenose broke the deadlock. A cross from the left hand side was met by Elliot Kelly, who made no mistake in beating his marker and heading past New keeper, Simon Nowell.
But Brasenose weren’t going to wait until the second half to double their lead. McCormick chipped the ball beyond the New full-back for scorer Kelly to turn provider, with a brilliant cross that picked out Leviseur, whose header across goal gave the keeper no chance. It was was probably the move of the match, and left New staring down the barrel of a third consecutive defeat.
If New had doubts, they didn’t show at the restart, as the Brasenose defence was immediately under pressure. When they failed to clear the ball far enough upfield a New throw led to a brilliant cross from the right flank across the six yards box, leaving a simple tap in for John Cordle to give New a lifeline.
Brasenose kept playing the better football, but it was New who had the ball where it mattered and began to test the home side’s keeper. Tom Howell was proving a handfull up front, with a tight angle shot palmed at the near post for a corner followed by a a close range header which found the keeper’s hands.As the final whistle neared, New were unwilling to commit players forward and they seemed headed for defeat. Howell took the game into his own hands, latching onto a speculative ball up field by the New keeper. He bundled past the last defender before beating the keeper to the ball and slotted home to break Brasenose hearts and claim a hard-earned point against more skilled opponents.