The Eagles celebrateDik Ng

CUAFC’s Eagles beat Oxford 2-0 on Sunday afternoon (05/03) at Huntingdon Town’s Jubilee Park stadium to continue their recent dominance of the fixture.

Missing club captain Holly Barber (sidelined by an injury) and vice-captain Tessa Doubleday (ineligible for this match), the Eagles were led instead by their talismanic centre-back Mia Farndon. Farndon showed her leadership qualities from the start, holding her own in the early exchanges as both sides looked to gain a foothold in the match. Oxford initially looked more threatening, as they played tidy football through the thirds, but it was Cambridge who struck first. Cambridge attacked down the left wing through Rose Gatfield-Jeffries and won a free kick 25 yards out. Farndon stepped up to take it, and smacked it home off the underside of the crossbar to give her side the lead. The goal galvanised Cambridge, who began to control the game. In a scrappy game, on a pitch with mud and divots galore, the composure of Nina Valenbreder and combativity of Zoe Richardson in midfield ensured that the Light Blues kept a grip on play throughout the first half.

Richardson and Gatfield-Jeffries both had shots saved by the Oxford goalkeeper, who made up for her small stature with remarkable agility. She also read the game well, coming out early to smother a potential opportunity for Cambridge winger Christabel Okongwu, who had latched onto a Valenbreder pass. This marked a shift in the game’s momentum, as the Dark Blues put together an attack, and won the first corner of the game about five minutes before halftime. The corner reached the penalty spot, where a scramble ensued. Oxford screamed for a handball, but were denied by the referee. They were denied again just seconds later, as a shot from the edge of the box was blocked, seemingly dubiously.


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Cambridge were somewhat lucky to reach halftime ahead, but in the second half they recovered their composure to put the game outside of Oxford’s reach. Okongwu again made a good run down the line, before finding centre-forward Kate Donnachie just yards out. Her attempt went wide, as the normally ruthless forward was wrong-footed by a bobble off the pitch, which was beginning to resemble a First World War battlefield. Okongwu’s pass was virtually her last contribution to the game, as she went off injured after a 50/50 challenge with the Oxford fullback. She was replaced by Nikki Payne, who, despite having run the Half Marathon in the morning, ran rings around the Oxford midfield with her agility and close dribbling ability.

Just minutes after this substitution (and the lengthy delay which preceded it), Donnachie surged down the wing and put a devious cross into the box. Oxford’s centre-back had no choice but to turn the ball into her net. The Dark Blues attempted to respond, but were thwarted by the tireless pressing and tackling of Richardson in the Cambridge midfield, which curtailed any chance they had of building momentum. The tireless Richardson later went up front, as the Eagles reshuffled their side by bringing on Lucy Ansell, Taylor Lynn-Jones and Sophie Keeling. There she continued to press and run in behind, aided by Izzy Camara, who stretched the Oxford backline with her pace. These continued attacks foreclosed the possibility of an Oxford fightback, and it was the Eagles who soared to victory, to the delight of their fans.

Varsity POTM: Zoe Richardson (Cambridge)