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By Alex Biggs
Blues midfielder Alex Biggs looks forward to an exciting season ahead for the University team
This week sees the start of the BUCS league campaigns for both the Centaur and Blues. The Blues take on Brookes away in a needle derby match that will likely be a hotly contested affair, as their close neighbours look to gain revenge for a 2-0 defeat last year at Iffley Road. Under new captain Sam Donald, the Blues have started this season encouragingly, remaining unbeaten in four fixtures and scoring 15 goals.
A 4-3-3 formation appears to have given a new lease of life to ex-captain Julian Austin, who has scored four in four so far, and the Blues boast a wealth of talent across the front three with Donald, Sam Firman, Ezra Rubenstein, Adam Healy and new boy Peder Beck-Friis all competing for a starting slot.
The Blues even went one better than their impressive pre-season last year – when they drew away at Hartpury -, beating the 2011 BUCS Cup Champions 1-0 on Wednesday, in a display that married resilient defensive play with counter-attacking flair. On the back of a disappointing relegation last season, it is good to see the Blues back to winning ways and showing no hangover from last year’s disappointments. The vast experience in the squad, with players such as Austin, vice-captain Ant Beddows and midfielder Alex Biggs playing their third year of uni football, should ensure the mistakes of last season aren’t repeated.
The Centaurs travel to University College Birmingham 1sts next Wednesday as they open their league season in Midlands 4A, having won the league at a canter last year. Despite the loss of some key players such as last year’s captain Dom Affron and midfielder Simon Lawrence, they will be hopeful of mounting a strong title challenge.
The league will certainly be a step-up from last season, with only one side not a university first eleven this time round. An encouraging intake of new players at trials means that captain Tom Phelan heads into next week’s game confident his side can start the season with a victory, however, despite a disappointing pre-season that has seen two heavy home defeats.
With quality players such as Matt Smith, Pat Meniru and James Lighton also due back from injury in the next week or so, there are plenty of positives for the Centaurs and they will be confident of hitting the ground running come next week.