The game inaugurated a new annual fixture that will take place in December to raise money for charityLiam Kline

On a bitterly cold December night (10/12), Cambridge University Association Football Club (CUAFC) Blues beat University College London (UCL) 2-1 in an inaugural charity match at Haringey Borough FC’s Coles Park Stadium.

Both sides organised the fixture in partnership with The OLLIE Foundation, a charitable organisation that offers training to industry professionals and young adults in their own communities to lead suicide awareness, intervention, and prevention activities. CUAFC have now been working alongside the charity for a number of months.

Turning to the action in the stadium, a large swell of UCL supporters packed the main stand, while the majority of the Cambridge faithful crammed into trains and aeroplanes bound to return from this year’s Varsity Trip. The alpine event, coupled with Covid incidents, also had an impact on the players available for the Blues, meaning that the likes of Sam Ernest, Tom Randall, and Funto Coker earned a call-up to the first team. Meanwhile, ever-present Matt Harris was out with an ankle injury.

With the game underway, UCL’s fast-paced attacking flair was answered by Cambridge’s pragmatic, possession-based style of football, with the Blues working the ball well across the middle of the park and out to right-winger Jyotirmoy Paul, who looked dangerous when facing up left-back Jack Pollard.

In and around the 10th minute, Cambridge’s Louie Roberts produced two decent chances for his side; the first a 25-yard free-kick effort that dropped onto the roof of the net, and the second a shot on his left peg that dragged wide of the left post.

Responding to Cambridge’s flurries of possession, UCL’s Marcel Aziamale, Daniel Evans, and Evan Lewis formed a promising trio down right-back Jed Odagbu’s side, finding pockets of space on the left to creep into the Blues box.

By the 30th minute, the 0-0 deadlock remained, as Cambridge’s passing game dwindled into a missing killer instinct, while UCL’s counter-attacking play lacked technical quality in all-important areas.

UCL’s Aziamale gifted the match its first real chance of the evening in the 32nd minute, after a beautifully floated cross from Pollard’s free kick was met by a scuffed header that somehow didn’t find the back of the net.

A repeat scenario, however, took place down the other end of the pitch ten minutes later, as Roberts whipped a ball towards the far post that was unable to be met by captain Ben Adam, grazing the goalmouth before going out for a goal kick.

Going into the final stages of the first half, UCL witnessed a flash of both promise and misfortune, as midfielder Martin Zahariev caught one on the bounce that forced a save from Cambridge’s Tim Wallace. The subsequent corner saw Aziamale strike the woodwork with his header, as the Blues found themselves lucky not to be 1-0 down come the sound of the whistle.

Head coach Tom Blatch took charge of a CUAFC side missing many of its first-team regularsLiam Kline

UCL were certainly the better side in the first 45, with Cambridge’s hesitancy on the ball translating to a number of chances for the London outfit. Despite managing to hold off the opening wave of purple, Cambridge needed to improve their distribution and bring in-form striker George Pugh properly into the fold.

Cambridge head coach Tom Blatch brought Lemuel Osei-Biney on for Paul to start the second half, and the winger had an immediate impact in providing the assist for the Blues’ breakthrough. On the 48-minute mark, Osei-Biney sets a crisp pass back to midfielder Roberts, who then curls the ball across goal and into the top left from just inside the box. Whatever Blatch said at half-time most certainly worked, as Cambridge now looked ferocious in their attacking approach.

The Blues came close to doubling their lead just minutes later, with Roberts winning his 50/50 challenge to then slip through Pugh, who subsequently poked the ball round the keeper with an outstretched leg but was quickly cleared by UCL’s Arthur Fordham to deny the striker an open goal.

Unlike the first half, UCL were largely unable to muster any decisive chances, with flashes of attack down the wing from substitute Markos Khir cancelled out by Cambridge’s Wallace, who calmly dealt with crosses into his area.

In response to UCL’s attacking drought, the Blues struck again this time through Osei-Biney, concluding a solid sequence of Cambridge pressure. Pugh intercepted a misplaced pass from the defence and fed Roberts with a slightly overhit pass that rolled through to keeper Carlos Bertan, who’s fumbled clearance cruelly landed straight at the feet of Osei-Biney. A first-time strike from the winger was slotted into the open net to make it 2-0.

As UCL desperately searched for a reply, Blatch’s side maintained their attacking intensity. A 71st-minute chance fell to Pugh after some tenacious work down the wing by substitute Ditie Eradiri, but his shot was blocked inside the box as he looked to bend one into the far post. Later in the 84th minute, Osei-Biney came close to bagging his brace with a scuffed shot that rolled just wide of the post.

The Blues scored two in the second half to get the job doneLiam Kline

Yet in spite of the Blues running riot, UCL found a late answer in the 85th minute, as substitute Ben Ballard clipped in a volley from a corner delivery that left Wallace helplessly rooted to the spot. With five minutes left on the referee’s watch, UCL players and fans alike had a spring in their step as they hunted for an equaliser.

Cambridge’s defensive pair of Ben Adam and Sam Ernest dug in and handled UCL’s route-one approach with relative ease, but a crack appeared in the 91st minute after a miscommunication with Wallace brought the Blues keeper to the edge of his box to claim a ball that Jevan Cousins was first to. The UCL attacker rounded Wallace to leave himself with an open goal, but the captain was unable to squeeze the ball in from what was a fairly tight angle. As Cousins put the ball wide, the UCL bench dropped to the turf in a real head-in-hands moment, while the groans of supporters echoed around the ground.

With the final whistle blowing at 2-1 to Cambridge, the Blues did well to escape a first half of UCL bombardment unscathed, and underwent a change in mentality in the second period to aggressively assert their dominance and stifle the counter attacks that troubled them earlier on.


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Speaking to Varsity after the game, CUAFC Men’s Co-President and organiser of the charity match, Kosi Nwuba, set out his future ambitions for the fixture: “Obviously this was the first time we’re doing the event so it was a fairly small occasion, but it’s going to grow in the coming years as we want to raise more and more money for charity”.

Briefly touching on the impact this game may have on the rest of the Blues’ season, as they look ahead to concluding their BUCS campaign and then taking on Oxford in March’s Varsity Match, Nwuba commented: “If you look at the first team they’ve only dropped two points all season, and it’s about maintaining that winning mentality”. He continued: “I’m really happy with how things went today and hopefully we can push on next term to win Varsity, get the Blues promoted, and have the Falcons in a good position too”.

CUAFC Blues will be back in action on Wednesday 19th January, taking on a De Montfort side that they managed to smash 5-0 at the beginning of last month.


CUAFC Starting XI: Tim Wallace, Matt Page, Ben Adam (C), Sam Ernest, Jed Odagbu, Tom Randall, Reece Linney, Funto Coker, Jyotirmoy Paul, Louie Roberts, George Pugh

Substitutes: Lemuel Osei-Biney, Ditie Eradiri

UCL Starting XI: Carlos Bertan, Sam Van Der Poel, Jack Pollard, Arthur Fordham, Harry Smith, Martin Zahariev, Jevan Cousins (C), Daniel Evans, Marcel Aziamale, Evan Lewis, Jackson Joseph

Substitutes: Amine Athamena, Markos Khir, Ben Horswell, Ben Ballard