Somerville: 3, Keble: 2

Somerville continued their push for an unlikely promotion place this season with a hard fought win over Keble, surviving a late Keble fight back to take the three points in an entertaining game. Their victory keeps alive hopes of reaching the JCR Premier Division next season.

The welcome spring sunshine and a pitch in good condition encouraged the two teams to play some neat and attractive football in the opening exchanges, but a cutting edge was lacking and neither goalkeeper was required to make a save.

However, Somerville broke the deadlock midway through the first half, Joe Lane meeting Jake Richards corner with a firm header into the top corner. It was an impressive finish from the Somerville striker, seeing as he was near the edge of the penalty box when he met the outswinging ball, but still powered it past the Keble keeper.

The goal gave Somerville a lift and they ended the half unquestionably the better side. Captain Richards was beginning to pull the strings in midfield and his superb through ball was met by hard working left winger Tom Deegan, who couldn’t quite place his shot inside the post. Keble would have been happy to hear the half time whistle, having tested Somerville goalkeeper Rhys Bevan only once during the whole half.

Keble used the half time break to regroup and started the second half at a much quicker tempo. This impressive start was rewarded with an equaliser a few minutes after the restart. A long ball was flicked to Patrick Smith who evaded the challenges of two Somerville defenders before placing a smart finish into the top corner. Keble’s resurgence did not last long however, and Somerville were back in front less than five minutes later thanks to another goal from a corner. This time Ralph Turner met Pete Stewart’s in-swinging cross with a diving header at the near post.

Once more the goal galvanised Somerville and they scored again soon after from yet another set piece. This time a long throw was cleverly flicked on by Alex Portz to his central midfield partner Jig Plowright who powered a header into the bottom corner. At this stage it appeared that Somerville might run away with the game as every attack produced a goalscoring opportunity. Second half substitute Nathaniel Jowitt was unlucky to hit the cross bar twice in as many minutes from two well struck shots. The frame of the Keble goal was again tested soon after as Turner’s long range shot bounced on the bar twice down before falling safely into the Keble goalkeeper’s hands.

Keble responded well to this good fortune and ended the game much stronger, beginning to threaten what had previously looked like it was going to be a routine three points for Somerville. They pulled one goal back as midfielder Alan Willies took advantage of some poor Somerville defending to emphatically head home from a corner, setting up a very interesting final ten minutes.

Despite being driven forward by captain Will Tane, Keble were unable to break through thanks to a combination of impressive Somerville defending and a lack of composure in front of goal.

The result was probably fair given the balance of play, but Somerville will be wary of how their dominance faded towards the end of the game. They will certainly have to play better if they are to pull off the victories against Worcester and St Johns they need to maintain their promotion push over the season’s final few weeks. Somerville have proven themselves a good football team this year; aside from their form in the league, they knocked Premier Division champions-elect Christ Church out of Cuppers, one of the competition’s biggest shocks.

For Keble, another defeat means they are still firmly in a relegation battle and desperately need to gain some points from their remaining games.