Cambridge footballers unable to loosen AFA’s seven-year stranglehold
Richard Totten reports promising set pieces but a failure to hit the back of the net
by Richard Totten
Friday 12th October 2012, 16:10 BST
Amateur Football Alliance 1 - 0 Cambridge
Despite putting in their best performance of the season so far, the Blues footballers were unable to break the AFA’s seven-year stranglehold on this particular fixture and succumbed to an undeserved 1-0 defeat. The failure to properly clear the ball from a second half corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble, allowing the AFA centre mid to fire home from eight yards. He gave them the goal they needed from what proved to be their own shot on target of the match.
Things had started well for the Blues side: Totten forced the opposition left back into an error, before managing to deliver a dangerous cross which just evaded Sheriff and Forde as they attacked the six yard box. Unfortunately this was a sign of things to come: Cambridge’s front three made powerful runs in the opposition’s final third, but weren’t able to manoeuvre the ball into the back of the net.
As the first half progressed, the Blues - driven forwards by a dominant centre midfield partnership of Broadway and May - continually threatened, looking especially dangerous from set pieces. From a corner midway through the first half, Day managed to power a header across goal. It was parried into the path of new-boy Ben Tsuda on the edge of the box, only for his low drive to be blocked on the line.
Going in at half time, there was little question as to who had had the better forty-five. Having been unable to convert this dominance into goals, however, the Cambridge side could not afford to relax. The AFA reappeared with the words of their manager ringing in their ears, and the second half began with a much greater balance in play than had been seen at any point in the first half. With Cambridge’s defence still on top, the AFA’s sixtieth-minute strike was a tough blow to take.
Despite this, the Blues continued to create more chances. Totten’s left-footed strike (from Forde’s centre) was well-saved by the keeper and substitute Kerrigan fired just wide. The closest the Blues came was from another set piece: after Totten was hacked down on the right-hand side, Rutt produced a teasing free kick which was flicked first by Broadway, then by Day, into the top corner of the net. But the goal was not to stand as the linesman awarded the fortunate AFA defence a free kick for pushing in the box. The fresh legs of Hill, Elliott and Dempsey looked like they might be able to conjure something in the closing stages but the Blues once again fell just short of the mark in this traditional fixture.
Many positives can be taken from this match, from the performance of Mikey Smith (who played his first ninety minutes for the Blues), to the strength of Sheriff, who looks like he may be hitting form at just the right time. An inability to put the ball in the back of the net will worry coach Che Wilson, however, who will be looking to put this to rights before BUCs starts in two weeks’ time.