Cambridge despair after a penalty shout was deniedIzzy Poles

A commanding performance went unrewarded as the Cambridge men’s Blues suffered a 2-0 defeat at Oxford on Monday (01/05). The Light Blues were the better side for much of the contest, but ruthless finishing and goalkeeping heroics secured victory for the home side.

An otherwise electric attacking performance lacked a finishing touch, while stern defending was undone by two minor lapses. Following a cagey first half, Oxford opened the scoring early in the second. The Blues responded well, producing their best attacking spell of the game. However, an equaliser remained elusive and Oxford delivered a killer blow in the 87th minute, doubling their lead to crush the Light Blue resurgence.

Clear-cut chances were scarce for both sides in an intense first half. Asa Campbell and Sonny McPherson starred for Cambridge, meandering into the Oxford box from wide positions. Their efforts yielded two penalty shouts, but referee Andre Marriner was unmoved, booking Campbell for simulation in the latter case. Though Oxford struggled for possession, punchy attacking play unsettled the Light Blue defence. Midway through the first half, danger-man Alfie Cicale evaded three Cambridge challenges, arriving in the Cambridge box and forcing goalkeeper Tim Wallace into a good save. Cambridge were less fortunate when the forward broke loose again in the second half, firing beyond the outstretched arm of Wallace to give Oxford the lead.

The deficit galvanised the Light Blues, but a half-hour onslaught failed to produce the equaliser. Sean Cusack enlivened the Cambridge attack through a domineering display at centre forward, linking well with Asa Campbell and substitute Brody Wooding on the left flank. Cusack almost found the net himself, but his low-curled effort cannoned off the far post. Minutes later, his delicate cross found an unmarked Josce Syrett whose chested effort forced a fingertip save. Fine margins denied Syrett again soon after, with his outstretched boot only narrowly missing Wooding’s whipped cross.


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CUAFC's Captain's on their Varsity chances

The substitution of Cusack deflated the Cambridge attack somewhat, and chances continued to fall for the Light Blues. Wooding latched onto a loose ball in the Oxford box, but an outstanding save denied the winger at point-blank range. With desperation setting in, an Oxford second ruled out a Cambridge comeback. Oxford’s left winger evaded the challenge of a fatigued McPherson, and a scuffed ball across the six-yard box found an Oxford forward arriving at the far post.

Cambridge fought until the final whistle, and substitute Kosi Nwuba was able to force Harry Way into two good saves, but nevertheless Marriner’s whistle soon confirmed the 2-0 defeat.

Varsity POTM: Harry Way (Oxford) with an honourable mention for Sean Cusack (Cambridge)