Oxford celebrating their very successful day Louis Ashworth

Oxford completed a third consecutive Varsity double as the Cambridge men’s football team went down 3-2 against an excellent performance at Barnet’s Hive Stadium.

Cambridge's women had lost a frustrating affair 3-1 earlier in the day due to a Becca May hat trick, and the men came into this as slight underdogs, and for the first forty minutes it showed. Oxford forwards Michael Feeney and Dominic Thelen kept the Light Blues busy from the first whistle. Their quick, incisive runs gave Raffi Salama and Henry Makings plenty of food for thought in the early stages, and they thought they’d done enough to take an early led when Thelen’s finessed effort from outside of the box was diverted into the net by teammate Feeney, but Cambridge were let off by the welcome sight of the linesman’s flag.

Meanwhile you could count the Cambridge chances on one hand. Huybrechts brought down a Warne goal kick in the Oxford box but ‘keeper David Windmill was equal to his shot. A low drive from George Herring was easily gathered, and a hopeful volley by midfielder Andy Sears-Black was blocked. Cambridge hadn’t really ruffled any Oxford feathers by the time the Dark Blues took the lead.

Oxford’s Alex Urwin swung in a free kick from the wide left, and Michael Feeney was unlucky to find his resulting header bounce off the underside of the bar and onto the line. But with Henry Warne on the floor, all Dominic Thelen had to do was tap home and sprint over to the Oxford crowd in celebration. 1-0.

The Light Blues continued to struggle to gain a foothold in the contest, with a midfield playing much too deep to compete for Henry Warne’s long range goal kicks. Oxford seemed to enjoy soaking up a host of lofted clearances out of the Cambridge back line that weren’t collected. When Goeric Huybrechts lost the ball trying to be too clever in the Oxford final third, the brilliant Joan Crespo, once of the FC Barcelona academy, slipped through for Feeney, who got goal side of Jack Congdon, but Henry Makings was alert enough to make a superb block to ensure that the Dark Blues’ forward’s effort didn’t challenge Henry Warne.

Crespo, by the way, almost found the net with a touch of something truly spectacular. A throw in bounced behind him, forty yards out with his back to goal. His acrobatic leap was followed by a splendid bicycle kick that deserved to go in. But it cleared the post. Just.

With Oxford very much on to, the goal for Cambridge seemed to come from nowhere. A glorious cross from Jack Congdon landed on the toe of Ben Bolderson on the left hand edge of the penalty area. The left winger set himself up with a neat first touch, then stroked gorgeously home with a half volley on the outside of his right boot. Oxford keeper could only watch the ball arc past him, and suddenly we had a game on.

Much as Cambridge had scored, can’t help but feel they wanted half time to come. Heaeer from oxford 11 to Cambridge 9 realeased him through the middle but Henry Makings tracked his run all the way, won the ball back and set Cambridge on the front foot once again.

Oxford players congratulate each other after their winLouis Ashworth

Unfortunately for the Light Blues the second half exploded into life about ten minutes after the restart. Cambridge had started quite brightly, enjoying more of the ball further up the field, but the closest they came to going ahead was a Raffi Salama header that just cleared the bar. Then a goalmouth scramble ensued from a Warne spill in the Cambridge box, though neither Thelen nor Feeney could control.

The third goal of the day came in unfortunate circumstances. When Thelen got the better of Joe Gregory, his tidy footwork taking him straight past the Cambridge left back, he crossed towards Feeney, who was somehow unmarked. Raffi Salama had no choice but to slide in and was unlucky to see his sliding interception divert the ball into the back of his own net.

Then it was the turn of Joan Crespo. Cambridge thought they’d played Thelen offside when he collected a pass wide right, but the linesman didn’t raise his flag, and play went on. Thelen put it into the mix, and Henry Makings came up with a superb block after Crespo laced a shot towards goal, but the rebound fell kindly for the number 10 who put easily home for a deserved goal.

With ten minutes to go Cambridge put the game firmly back on, as Stefan Wolf’s excellent curling pass set Cambridge’s Marcus Nielsen up on the half-volley, 25 yards out to lace brilliantly past David Windmill in the Oxford net. With ten minutes to go, Cambridge began to sense they could get something out of this after all.

But the Light Blues didn’t come much closer. Ben Bolderson looked like he was about to make an opening on the left but he floated a cross-shot high of goal with the entire Cambridge forward line lying in wait in the box. And on 93 minutes ‘keeper Henry Warne was almost embarrassed when a poor touch from a simply pass conceded the ball to Thelen on the edge of the box, but the striker couldn’t collect quickly enough and his shot went over. Substitute John Dineen nearly added a fourth on 93 mins, but a good save from Warne kept the scoreline a respectable 3-2 as Oxford sealed a third consecutive double Varsity win

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