Homerton I suffered an unexpected 5-1 defeat to Robinson ILiam Kline

The opening weekend of college league football saw Downing I, Pembroke I, Gonville & Caius I, and Robinson I defeat Churchill I, Queens’ I, St John’s I, and Homerton I respectively. Fitzwilliam I were expected to host Corpus Christi I yesterday (16/10), but the away side failed to field a team. A rescheduled date of Saturday 30th October has been set.

Downing 2 - 1 Churchill

In a fast-paced, frenetic game characterised by crunching tackles and the shrill blow of the referee’s whistle, ten-man Downing came back from behind to beat Churchill.

Downing started brightly, with striker Milo Lammin denied only by an excellent stop from Churchill keeper and captain Sagar Agrawal early on. However, Downing’s momentum was soon disrupted in the 23rd minute, as centre-back and first team debutant Jojo Jenner unfortunately placed the ball in his own net to make it 0-1.

For the rest of the first half, Churchill were on top, with Blues midfielder Jocelino Rodrigues proving particularly troublesome to deal with for the home team’s defenders. But in Lemuel Osei-Biney, Downing had their own Blue on the bench, and his introduction for the injured Nick Granados helped turn the tide of the game to Downing’s favour.

A resurgent Downing were frustrated in the early minutes of the second half as they couldn’t find a way past the imperios Sam Ernest, marshalling the Churchill defence from centre-back and causing issues on the counter with precision long balls.

The breakthrough eventually came in the 60th minute when Osei-Biney cleverly intercepted a pass from Agrawal and ran at the defence before laying it off into the path of a marauding Sam Healy, who scooped the ball over the keeper into Churchill’s net for the equaliser.

Osei-Biney’s game was cut short as he too was forced off with injury, leaving Downing reduced to ten for the last fifteen minutes. Despite the numerical disadvantage, the Downing defence dealt with everything Churchill had to throw at them, with Jojo Jenner’s acrobatic, body-on-the-line defensive work more than making up for his first-half own goal.

Downing’s stubborn performance was rewarded when, in the 82nd minute, Milo Lammin latched onto a long ball played by the fit-again Granados to chip the rushing Churchill keeper and score the late winner.

Player of the match: Jojo Jenner

Downing I: Sagar Agrawal (C), Andreas Economou, Sam Ernest, Osa Iluobe, Edward Xu, Tom Burke, Conor O’Neill, Joe Helm, Jocelino Rodrigues, Edward Wicken, Callum Farrow

Substitutes: Edward Stevenson, Dan Lofts, Alex Perrin

Churchill I: Jamie Russell, Cody Roth, Jojo Jenner, Josh Sassoon, Hasan Al-HabiB, Sam Healy, Nick Granados, Richard Gotts (C), Robbie Smith, Milo Lammin, Ren Lioka

Substitutes: Lemuel Osei-Biney

Pembroke 3 - 0 Queens’

Crossing over to the Pembroke Sports Ground, Queens’ started the game stronger and pushed the home side back for most of the first ten minutes, although they were unable to create much in this period.

Having weathered the early storm, Pembroke grew into the game and attacked heavily down the right, getting in behind the Queens’ defence but lacking the final product. With their first real attack down the left, Alex Root played the ball to left winger Sonny Mahendran, who was unmarked at the far post and cooly finished across the keeper to open the scoring.

Pembroke built on this momentum, starting to keep better hold of the ball. Their improved play was rewarded with a second goal, with Root once again flicking a cross into the far post for Mahendran to smash home and give his side a 2-0 lead going into the break.

The second half was fairly even, however, with Queens’ drawing a couple of smart saves from the Pembroke keeper Cameron Keith and adamantly playing out from the back. Despite Pembroke winning the ball back a couple of times high up, Queens’ were often able to progress the ball into midfielders Ed McCarthy and Toby Clark, who combined well with their wingers to get the ball in behind the home defence.

Pembroke had some chances of their own, with plenty of balls being played into the box from open play and the several free kicks they won. This was what ultimately led to a third goal, as Root’s denied effort turned into a third assist, with substitute Aldri Cela finishing the rebound from close range.

Player of the match: Sonny Mahendran

Pembroke I: Cameron Keith, Will Holmes, Matt Hawthorn, Josh O’Connell, Toby Parsloe, Tele Agusto (C), Oliver Reed, Alex Root, Sonny Mahendran, Jack Seery, Jake Stokes

Substitutes: Joseph Steane, Aldri Cela, Julius Ahmad

Queens’: Dom Lee, Elliott Christensen, Ilyaz Sayenko, Konstantin Hemker, Elliott Stockdale, Ed McCarthy (C), Oscar Selby, Toby Clark, Ben Harvey, Wesley Barrett, Jonah Weiniger

Gonville & Caius 1 - 0 St John’s

In Saturday’s final fixture, Caius beat John’s in a disjointed game of few chances. The first half was especially scrappy and neither team managed to take the game by the horns, with no clear dominance in midfield.

The half-chances that did come in the first period mostly followed defensive errors. John’s nearly got in behind after 32 minutes following a communication error in the Caius back line, while the home side soon after enjoyed a good spell in response to a poor John’s goal kick.

Caius started the second half much the stronger side, forcing a great save from John’s keeper Mark Robinson in the 50th minute. Yet it was no surprise that the game’s only goal came from a mistake. Caius finally capitalised on the away side’s slow start to the half after sixty minutes, as Amrit Gill picked up the ball after the John’s defence failed to clear a pass over the top and finished well from outside the box, leaving Robinson motionless.

From then on, Caius were relatively comfortable. John’s only forced the home keeper Finlay Gerrand into making one meaningful save, while Caius’ two centre backs Ollie Babcock and Charlie Wilson pocketed the John’s front line, mopping up just about anything that came their way. Caius deserved the win based on their second half showing, but they have more to do if they want to establish themselves as serious title contenders.

Player of the match: Ollie Babcock

Gonville & Caius I: Finlay Gerrand, Aidan Atkinson, Ollie Babcock, Charlie Wilson, Alex Edwards, Naz Mohammed, James Wiseman (C), Ethan Sorrell, Frank Gill, Nick Stuart, Amrit Gill

Substitutes: Toby Barnett

St John’s I: Mark Robinson, Robert Ritchie, Matt Ball, Jacob Davies, Jaeheon Shim, Tomos Mather, Jack Burt, Sang Wee, Josh Adeyemi, Lucca Martins, Aineias Arango

Substitutes: Ben Herring, Naylin Naidu

Robinson 5 - 1 Homerton

In Sunday’s (17/10) only fixture, Robinson hosted Homerton, with the visiting side looking to build on their Cuppers form from last season and the home outfit hoping to kick off their campaign in the best way possible.

Robinson got the game underway, testing Homerton keeper Alfie Davis early with a shot from midfielder Alex Loan. The away side soon responded with an attacking presence of their own, with Funto Coker, Sean Kamau, and Torres Ng linking up well to trouble Robinson’s back line.

Cyprian Kucaj forced a strong save from Robinson goalie Tarush Bansal in the 10th minute, but the game quickly fell into the home team’s hands. On the 22-minute mark, Vissarion Christodoulou buried a sweet half-volley to open the scoring at 0-1, after Homerton’s defence failed to clear Makafui Avevor’s cross from the right side.

Homerton struggled to find a footing in the game following this setback. Going into the final minutes of the first half, Robinson really turned up the intensity, bombarding Homerton with two goals in quick succession to make it 0-3 going into the break. Attacker George Pugh converted Barnes’s inviting pass with a cool first time finish, while Pugh then grabbed his second by slotting a pinpoint effort into the bottom left corner of Homerton’s net.

The away side started the second half with the much-needed intent to rouse a comeback, which attacking midfielder Haeden Johnson nearly kick-started after an absolute worldie of an attempt. Picking the ball up from about 30 yards out, Johnson steered one towards the top left corner, only to be cruelly denied by the Robinson woodwork. Captain Joe Lockhart also came close to securing Homerton’s first goal, but his looping clearance stroke effort was ruled offside following Johnson’s interference with play.


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CUAFL season preview

As the game went into its final third, Robinson’s attack once again asserted its dominance. The 80th minute saw Barnes get his name on the score sheet, leisurely tapping in Loan’s low-drilled cross. Seven minutes later, substitute Billy McGough nodded home a diving header, latching on to a looping ball from Avevor that marked his second assist of the day.

In the final minute of play, Homerton nicked a deserved consolation goal, after Kamau’s corner took an unlucky deflection for Bansal, who inevitably palmed the ball into his own net to end the affair at 5-1. Robinson will be disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet, but either way executed a brilliant performance that puts them in good stead going forward. Meanwhile, Homerton will return to the drawing board, looking at how they can best balance attacking talent with defensive stability.

Player of the match: George Pugh

Homerton I: Alfie Davis, Noah Palombo, Joe Lockhart (C), Max Asseily, Rony Chowdhry, Fred Sayer, Alex Dunn, Funto Coker, Sean Kamau, Torres Ng, Cyprian Kucaj

Substitutes: Haeden Johnson, Folami Iyiola, Vincent Martin

Robinson I: Tarush Bansal, Ben Blunt, Jamie Gammell (C), Henry Lambert, Ronan Cons, Will Wakelam, Alex Loan, Vissarion Christodoulou, George Pugh, Makafui Avevor, Jack Barnes

Substitutes: Billy McGough, Abubakar Mohamud

Looking ahead to next weekend (23/10 to 24/10), the CUAFL’s top flight will have five games in action. Losing sides Churchill and Queens’ will face each other, Downing expects to welcome Fitzwilliam to their Sports Ground, while Homerton will aim to bounce back against Pembroke. Corpus will hope to muster a team to host Caius, and finally St John’s will clash with Robinson to round off what will undoubtedly be another exciting round of college football in Matchday 2.