Oxford’s Blues footballers fired a warning shot to their rivals by winning a pre-season tournament at Bristol University.
Two 1-0 wins against Bristol 2nds and Bath Spa 1sts and a 1-1 draw against Bristol 1sts gave the Blues the perfect preparation for their first game of the BUCS season, a tricky test away to Birmingham University on October 16.
A host of new recruits, including Mike Essman and Michael Feeney from across the Atlantic, hope to bring a second successive promotion for the Blues’ after reaching the Midlands 1A Division last season.
The new signings looked to have mastered the passing football which has characterised the Blues over the last few years in the tournament’s first clash against Bristol 1sts.
Jack Fletcher’s side dominated possession and broke the deadlock when Ezra Rubenstein slipped the ball through to Matt Smith, who executed a deft lob into the top right-hand corner. A moment of brilliance robbed Oxford of victory, however, when the hosts curled a free-kick past goalkeeper Ben Szreter with only five minutes remaining.
Rubenstein was the match-winner in the second contest as Oxford edged a dogged contest against Bristol’s 2nd team.
With both teams tiring in the sweltering heat the nippy winger was the difference, waltzing past two defenders and rolling the pall calmly inside the far post.
The visitors returned rejuvenated for their final match against Bath Spa 1sts but for all their toiling they could not find a breakthrough in the first half. Three times the Blues had the goalkeeper beaten, three times they saw the ball cannon back off the woodwork. Ben May saw a fourth attempt against the crossbar from a corner midway through the second half only for Adam Heardman to tuck in the rebound and seize the trophy.
A triumphant Oxford will complete their pre-season with fixtures against the Amateur Football Association, the Old Carthusians and Hartpury Academy.
Elsewhere, the Centaurs introduced a new coaching team during their pre-season who are looking to improve upon the work of last season’s captain Tom Phelan.
The team suffered two narrow heartbreaks last season, missing out on the league title on goal difference and losing Varsity by a single goal.
Newly-appointed captain will be hoping to guide the Centaurs to that elusive league and cup double. They travelled to London for their final pre-season friendly where they defeated Imperial College 1sts 2-0.