The Dark Blue defence marshalled Cambridge’s attack superbly to earn the 1-0 victoryKane Smith/kanesmithphotography

After the gutting penalty-shootout defeat for Cambridge’s Women earlier in the afternoon (13/3), the Men’s Blues were hoping to avenge their Light Blue comrades in the later game at the Abbey Stadium, in front of 2,169 spectators.

Cambridge certainly managed to set the tempo in the opening exchanges of the 137th Men’s Varsity Match, with Fortina Oshasha on the right-hand side looking particularly dangerous with his lightning pace.

In the 15th minute, Oshasha picked the pocket of centre-back Nick Lai down the right flank. He got to the by-line and fed it back to Cai La Trobe-Roberts, who fired just wide.

But, going the other way were the two wingers from Jesus College, Oxford. Alfie Cicale and Sam Lewis were showing some great link-up play, and were beginning to cause full-backs Sonny McPherson and Alex Bragg a few problems.

The second big chance of the half fell to Cambridge again in the 27th minute, with a fantastic ball from Bragg to Sean Cusack on the left wing. He put a teasing ball across that came off the knee of Oxford’s Lai, and Harry Way got down superbly to tip the ball round the post.

Cambridge’s Cai La Trobe-Roberts in action up frontKane Smith/kanesmithphotography

The rest of the half, however, certainly had Oxford on top, with Cicale looking increasingly dangerous. On the 34-minute mark, he drove at Matt Hawthorn who was drawn into making a clumsy challenge, bringing down Cicale and leaving the referee little choice but to award the penalty.

Oxford captain Luke Smith made no mistake, smashing the ball into the right corner and sending Cambridge keeper Tim Wallace the wrong way.

Cicale continued to be dangerous for the rest of the half, showing great footwork and having a good effort from distance right at the end of 45, whilst the Cambridge front three were increasingly choked out of the game.

The second half saw La Trobe-Roberts more involved, flicking the ball on well after two good spouts of hold-up play.

In the 55th minute, Oxford’s Lewis played an enticing ball into the box after evading Bragg, but the cross went unanswered with no Dark Blue shirt in the box.

Nearly answering back in the 70th minute, centre-midfielder Matt Harris played a beautiful through ball to Kanwei who bursted through the middle. Way, however, made himself big between the sticks, producing a top save to deny Cambridge an equaliser.


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At the other end just five minutes later, some Cambridge heroics from Wallace and Hawthorn kept the Light Blues within one. Hawthorn blocked what looked to be a certain goal from Oxford substitute David Burton, while Wallace then followed up with a brilliant point-blank save to deny Nathaniel Downes’ deflected shot.

The closing moments of the game saw Cambridge fail to really trouble the Oxford defence, with the game eventually ending 1-0 to the Dark Blues, marking their second consecutive win in the Varsity series.

Varsity Player of the Match: Alfie Cicale (Oxford)


Cambridge: Tim Wallace (GK), Sonny McPherson, Alex Bragg, Matt Harris, Ben Adam (C), Matt Hawthorn, Sean Cusack, Reece Linney, Cai La Trobe-Roberts, Fortina Oshasha, Lumi Kanwei

Substitutes: George Pugh, Louie Roberts, Brody Wooding. Not used: Henry Lambert, Paddy Mortimer

Oxford: Harry Way, Kaiyang Song, Ben Barber, Ben Putland, Noah Hudson, Luke Smith (C), Finlay Ryan-Phillips, Joseph Hickey, Alfie Cicale, Sam Lewis, Nick Lai

Substitutes: David Burton, Nathaniel Downes, Omarr Belhaj-Fahsi