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Clinical Blues wrap up Bucs hockey double

Matt Roller and Thomas Browne report on Oxford's hockey success against the Tabs

Women’s Blues 2-0 Cambridge

In the first part of Wednesday’s double header against Cambridge, the Women’s Blues stepped out onto the turf to see if they could keep their streak against the Tabs going after their 4-0 victory in last year’s Varsity Match. From the off, Oxford had the upper hand and were bringing the game to Cambridge.

Despite some difficulties with the sprinkler system pre-match, Oxford were playing the ball around quickly, totally in control. This dominance finally came to fruition with an early goal from Georgie Walton. The ball broke forward and her shot at the near post squirmed under the Cambridge keeper and managed to evade the Cambridge defender’s fumbled attempt at a goal line clearance, trickling over the line to make it 1-0.

Thereafter, Oxford continued to control the game, despite a few green cards being dished out for some cynical fouls – it was a match against Cambridge after all, and after the first goal the raucous home supporters were baying for Tab blood.

The Dark Blues peppered the Cambridge goal with shots, producing some impressive reflex saves from the beleaguered Cambridge goalkeeper. The visitors did have one half-chance towards the end of the half, when a sloppy defensive mistake left a visiting player one-on-one with Oxford keeper Rachael Dellar. But Dellar was up to the task, diving on the ball and clawing it away to maintain the home side’s clean sheet.

The half ended with a scrappy passage of play, and when the teams returned for the second half it was clear that tired legs were playing a part as the quality of the match dropped slightly.

Oxford maintained their dominance and soon forced a brilliant reflex save from the Light Blues’ keeper, followed by a goal-line clearance from the ensuing chance.

In the final portion of the game, Oxford really put the screws on Cambridge, camped in the final third of the pitch, laying siege to the Cambridge goal with a barrage of attempts. It wasn’t long until Dalton found space through the middle, dribbled past a couple bewildered visitors and coolly slid the ball across goal for a tap in by Rachael Harrison at the far post – an excellently worked team-goal. The match finished 2-0 and the commanding display by Oxford certainly bodes well for 2018’s Varsity Match at Southgate Hockey Club.

Men’s Blues 2-1 Cambridge

After a convincing 6-1 win in last week’s Bucs game against Canterbury Christ Church, the Men’s Blues went into Wednesday’s game against Cambridge with a 100% league record. And from the offset, they were clearly brimming with confidence: although there were few clear cut chances in the early stages, Thomas Claughton’s mazy run down the right nearly created a goal out of nothing. Nobody got on the end of his cross, but Oxford were the stronger of the teams.

Midway through the first half, the pressure paid. A defensive mix-up from Cambridge left the ball free in the area, and 2016/17 captain Ryan Kavanagh was on hand to make it one-nil to the hosts. Not long after, Noah Francis’ drag-flick was well-saved by the Light Blues’ keeper, but Claughton was on hand to slam in the rebound to double the lead. Oxford were cruising, and Francis led a series of penetrating attacks through the middle. Andrew Oxburgh’s driving run led to a chance that was nearly bundled in at the back post, and despite Cambridge hitting the post from a short corner, the Dark Blues went into half-time having completely dominated.

The second half was a drab affair, as Oxford starved the visitors of any real opportunities. Josh Keeling should have scored after a driving run from Nick Leach, and Alex Copestake failed to turn in a ball from Jolyon Dannatt, but neither side looked like scoring.

With two minutes on the clock, Cambridge finally broke through a firm home defence to score, but it was a case of too little too late: the Dark Blues held on to complete a 2-1 win, giving them a three-point cushion at the top of the league.

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