Teddy Hall continue to push for the top

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St Edmund Hall 5 – 0 BrasenoseBrasenose and Teddy Hall lined up on Uni Parks for this Premier League encounter each with something to prove: Brasenose were hoping that a their collection of talented players could reward them with a first win in ten games, and Hall looked to continue their remarkable resurgence and potentially challenge Worcester for the Premier League crown. Both teams’ desire was marked by gritty tackles in the opening exchanges, but it was Brasenose that signalled their intent early on. Driven by a strong midfield and the skill of Elliot-Kelly and de Haes in attack, they dominated possession, and Teddy Hall were reduced to playing counterattack football. De Haes was kept out by a smart save from Ielpo, looking for his third consecutive clean sheet, and Brasenose almost bundled in from the resulting corner as Hall endured a period of nervy moments in the box. Gradually, however, Hall began to demonstrate the kind of fast-passed passing football that has propelled them to the quarterfinals of Cuppers and within realistic reach of the league leaders. As Brasenose became increasingly frustrated at a series of poor final balls, the likes of Hall’s Tim Hoffman and Charlie ‘birthday boy’ Talbot- Smith began to control proceedings. This increasing pressure soon paid off. After Jack Furniss had gone close after good work by Ed Morse, Talbot- Smith released a through ball that left the Brasenose back line staring in wonder as Wilf Frost finished the move, his angled shot was as ice cool as his name would suggest. Hall, based on an everreliable back five, continued to press hard for a second, with the left side – Morse, Talbot-Smith and the impressive Jack Furniss – particularly dangerous as Brasenose’s defensive frailties began to be exposed by the powerful running of Hall’s attacking players. Chances came and went, with Max Clarfelt and Carl Jones going close. Indeed, for all their attacking purpose, such was Brasenose’s lack of defense that there were strong words at half-time and this, together with a few typically eloquent words from Frost, was perhaps the jab in the ribs Hall needed. Certainly, the second half treated the spectators to a brand of inspired football that would make Steve McLaren blush. After a period of pressure of Brasenose pressure where Hall captain Johnny Waldron had to be at his most alert to clear of the line and Ielpo made good use of his considerable stature to pull of a stunning reflex save from de Haes, Hall capitalised on the growing sense of despondency of their opponents and began to cut through the Brasenose defence at will. Hoffman went close on several occasions while Frost and Talbot-Smith were both denied by a very stubborn left post, but they did not have to wait long to celebrate – Talbot-Smith gifted the perfect birthday present, heading in after a defensive mix-up, and Frost’s cross-shot being turned in by a defender as a striker hovered menacingly behind him. Frost capped a formidable performance with two fine finishes – a crisp volley and a header from Jones’s pinpoint cross – to notch up his hattrick and bring his season’s tally to 11 goals in 10 games. This impressive win, surely the best of the season for the Hall and one that leaves Brasenose fighting the everincreasing threat of relegation, will certainly leave Worcester peering over their shoulders as their rival’s challenge gathers momentum. As Talbot- Smith collected his man-of-the match accolade, Waldron was left musing on his side’s prospects for the rest of the season.by Edward Halliday

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