Monday’s football Varsity at Oxford City’s Raw Charging stadium provided mixed results. The Cambridge women emerged comfortable victors, whilst the Oxford Men’s Blues won for the third year running. For the first time in three years, Oxford did not get the double win.
After a disappointing cancellation of the Football Varsity scheduled for March 19th in London at Leyton Orient, all teams had to refocus for a Football Varsity Round 2 on the 1st of May 2023. A thank you must also go to OUAFC Club President, Ore Jacobi, and CUAFC Men’s and Women’s Presidents, Ben Adam and Neve Mayes, for their swift rescheduling of the match.
As defending Champions, the men’s Oxford Blues were clear favourites for this match. Despite missing some of their best players due to injury or absence, including last year’s Blues Captain, Luke Smith, the Oxford Blues men’s team had a strong start. After the 5 pm kick-off, the first half was evenly matched with both Cambridge and Oxford building some impressive offensive play. Cambridge fans called for a penalty in the early stages of the first half but the referee decided against this
The Oxford goalkeeper, Harry Way, put on a stellar performance and made countless fantastic saves across the match. He was impenetrable in goal and kept a clean sheet.
The score at halftime was 0-0. However, Oxford had the momentum going into the break. They built promising attacks and remained physical in the midfield, with Oxford Blues Men’s Captain, Finlay Ryan-Phillips, bringing plenty of hard-tackling play. This allowed Oxford’s midfielders to wrestle back control of the match leading up to halftime.
After the halftime break, Oxford came out strong with star England National University team left winger, Alfie Cicale booting the opening goal proving his talent and flair up front. It was fitting that he scored the opener.
Fidan Suljik scored for Oxford again from a through ball and elevated the score to 2-0. From then on, the Oxford men held strong. Cambridge continued to fight for the match, building some promising attacks in the last 20 minutes of the second half. Ultimately though, their shots were off target and they could not beat the Oxford defence or keeper Harry Way.
Indeed, it was Oxford’s centre-back, Noah Hudson, who was named player of the match. He provided both impenetrable defense and creative play-making. His through balls from deep in defence out to the wings were particularly effective in opening up the game for Oxford and allowing them to transition quickly from defensive to offensive play.
Oxford’s home crowd were fortunate to experience a triumphant victory. It was a display of fantastic football, physicality and an exciting, high-intensity match. The Oxford Blues Men’s team put on a great performance and won their match comfortably. Their winning mentality was evident. It was a real team effort.
Cambridge Blues provided ceaseless pressure and great build-up play. They switched the ball through the middle to find gaps in Oxford’s defense, but were ultimately unable to convert chances. Nonetheless, they should be congratulated for their efforts.
For the third year running, the Oxford Blues Men’s Football team claimed a Varsity victory. They were worthy winners and were presented with the trophy by Oxford University Vice Chancellor, Professor Irene Tracey, CBE, FMedSci.
Seeing the men confidently triumph over Cambridge was fantastic for both players and fans. Although the women’s result was disappointing, it was great to end the day on a high. Next year, OUAFC will fight for the double, see you then!
Image Credit: Nikola Boysová