Selwyn I continued their fine run of form with a surprise 1–0 win over CUAFL Cuppers champions and league favourites Robinson I in a hotly contested match on Saturday afternoon at Barton Road.
Having made a dominant start to the season with 7–1 and 6–1 wins, Robinson slumped to their third consecutive defeat. Indeed, despite an impressive first half performance, their failure to take their chances and a couple of unfortunate injuries allowed a determined Selwyn a route into the game to grab victory.
The away side began the game very much on top, with the dominant Dami Adebayo dictating the play and their wingers, Tom Bacon and Nathan Procter, sending in threatening crosses which tested the Selwyn defence. Indeed, on a number of occasions, the ever-dangerous Toni Morales was presented with a number of clear-cut opportunities which he was unable to take.
And Robinson’s poor finishing was not confined to their striker: having seized upon a stray Joe Hudson pass, run half the pitch and rounded Selwyn goalkeeper Keir Baker with ease, Adebayo was left with his head in his hands as he failed to roll the ball – albeit from a tight angle – in for the opener.
Following this reprieve, Selwyn rallied. Suddenly, the game was no longer just one-way traffic and, moments after a Morales shot from close range whistled agonisingly past the post, John Harrison in the Robinson goal was called upon to brilliantly deny Selwyn veteran Dave Hawes low down. Indeed, as Selwyn grew into the half, Harrison was to be called upon on a number of occasions to keep out Alex Thompson, James Massey and Hawes again.
The rest of the half was an even affair, characterised by industry and midfield battles as both sides strived to take the lead before the half-time break. Morales’ fine attacking performance was bringing the best out of Hudson and Roweth while Marino was largely keeping Massey under wraps. But Robinson looked the more likely and, after losing Arman Hakimazari to an unfortunate injury, they looked for all the world like they had scored.
A fine bit of trickery from Sam Bacon saw him beat his man and whip in a dangerous ball towards the back post, perfectly into the stride of Procter who struck a sweet volley from 10 yards which seemed destined to arrow into the back of the net. But the away side were to be denied by the fingertips of Baker, as the Selwyn goalkeeper – pulling off a save described post-match as “disgustingly outrageous” and “obscene” – leapt high to claw the ball over the bar and keep the score at 0-0 going into the break.
The second half was much a different affair: with neither side wanting to be the first to concede, the midfield become scrappy. But with an injury to Procter leaving Robinson with 10 men, the home side were able to claim the upper hand, with Pablo Lemos Portela and Josh Brocklesby giving more room to feed Massey and Charlie Stone on the wings. And while Robinson continued to threaten through Morales and Bacon, it was Selwyn who looked the more potent, bringing out the very best of Omar Amjad and Harrison.
But eventually Harrison was to be beaten: Selwyn, who had looked dangerous thanks to the long throws of Hudson throughout, took advantage of a Hawes flick-on, as Brocklesby scrambled the ball home to give the home side an unlikely 1–0 lead.
While the Cuppers champions pushed for the equaliser, Selwyn held firm – thanks to some vital challenges from substitute Sam Comb – and restricted the away side to one shot at goal as Baker got down low to keep out Adebayo’s drive. And, with the game gradually ebbing out until the full-time whistle heralded Selwyn’s second consecutive league victory, it was hard to deny that the home side’s second-half performance made it a deserved three points.
Indeed, speaking to Varsity after the match, Robinson skipper Olly Friend channelled his inner Tennyson to poetically lament his side’s failure to maintain their positive early start: “Today we were a butterfly. We began, comfortably cacooned, tentatively surveying our world, the pitch around us. 0–0 at half time. Our adolescence was over, we were metamorphosising into a second half. We were not ready for this new world. Our wings were ripped from us, our sense of direction askew. We fell to the ground and were trampled on. A once beautiful creature of God returned to the dirt. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. 1–0 probs a fair result.”
Selwyn I: Baker, Diana, Hudson (c), Roweth, Fox, Stone, Lemos Portela, Brocklesby, Thompson, Massey, Hawes
Substitutes: Amand, Comb, Robertson
Robinson I: Harrison, Marino, Dickinson, Thompson, Amjad, Adebayo, Friend, Hakimazari, Bacon, Morales, Procter
Referee: Chris Hussey
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