Squash is usually thought of as a bit of a niche sport. It’s played in a large cube with a little rubber ball which both players alternately hit against the wall until one of them wins the point. Put like that, it probably sounds a little pointless. But there are so many different levels to squash, and at every level of play there’s something to enjoy. At the higher levels it’s often described as physical chess. It’s fast, fluid, intense, and tough. International squash players run approximately 1118 metres in the 16 and a half minutes the average squash game takes them to complete, with well over 500 changes of direction, whilst hitting the ball at speeds of up to 175 mph. During this they’re trying to outplay, outmanoeuvre, and outthink their opponents, so the description seems apt. But even as you filter down through to the beginner levels or are just playing for fitness, squash is challenging, enjoyable, interesting, and a little different to the standard fare.
The Blues netball team entertained the University of Birmingham at Iffley Road on Bonfire Night, emerging as comfortable victors in a thoroughly entertaining game.
Both teams headed into the fixture knowing a win would send them to the top of the BUCS Midlands 2A league. Oxford started the brighter, with their high intensity play forcing early mistakes from Birmingham; the Blues were rewarded with a brace of goals in the opening 5 minutes. The remainder of the first quarter was a cagey affair, until a flurry of goals just prior to the interval culminated in Oxford going into the break with a healthy 7-4 lead.
The second quarter began with the visitors on the front foot and, despite a heroic goal-saving interception from goalkeeper Keyser, Birmingham would score first to put them within 2 of Oxford. This seemed to rouse the Oxford team, and any threat of a comeback was soon put to bed with some brilliant approach play leading to 3 quick-fire goals for the Blues. With Murray, Coe and Rogers controlling the game, Oxford could have been out of site if not for the clinical finishing of the Birmingham goal shooter. 13-7 at half-time; Birmingham just within touching distance.
They wouldn’t be for long – the 3rd quarter turned into a goal-fest for Oxford. The astoundingly high energy levels of their back line saw almost every Birmingham attack snuffed out. The eagerness of goal defence Dixon to swiftly turn defence into attack led to a plethora of goal-scoring opportunities for goal attack Fries and shooter Faull. Faull in particular was in imperious form, and her near-perfect rate of conversion meant Oxford ended the quarter having doubled their goal tally: 26-13 to Oxford.
Oxford continued to assert their superiority throughout the final quarter, in-keeping with the professional performance they had put on thus far. Keyser was immense at the back, Murray incisive in the centre, and Fries unsympathetic in attack. Oxford extended their lead by another three before the final whistle.
FINAL SCORE: Oxford 35-19 Birmingham. The Blues sit top of the league 3 points clear of 2nd placed Birmingham.
Team: Ailsa Keyser, Harriet Dixon, Mia Coe, Liz Murray (c), Charlotte Rogers, Anna Fries, Liv Faull.
The Varsity Match at Twickenham is always one of the biggest events on the Oxbridge sporting calendar, but this year it will be even more special as the game is dedicated to the fifty five rugby union Blues who died during the First World War. 2014 marks the hundred year anniversary of the war’s outbreak and the Varsity Match’s organisers plan to hold a minute’s silence before kick-off in remembrance of the game’s former players.
Among the fifty five, there were twenty-six internationals, captains of England, Scotland and the British & Irish Lions and some of the greatest players of their era. Indeed, the 1901 and 1902 Cambridge skipper David Bedell-Sivright was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2013.
Of the players who had played in the final Varsity match before the war in December 1913, all thirty fought for their country whilst nine of the two team’s starting line ups had been killed before the fixture resumed in 1919. Out of the thirty players who played that day, eight won Military Crosses, two were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross whilst another Blue earned the Air Force Cross. Cambridge ran out 13-3 victors that year and current Oxford captain Jacob Taylor hopes that 101 years on, the score can be reversed in the Dark Blues’ favour.
The former Australian sevens international and Keble student said that “the idea of paying tribute to the Blues who served in WWI at this year’s Varsity Match is a great one. It is difficult to imagine how things were 100 years ago, but it is easy to respect the decision made by so many young men to step forward to serve their country,” Taylor, who is a Rhodes scholar studying Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, will be looking to lead Oxford to their fifth successive victory in the fixture in an attempt to claw back Cambridge’s 61-56 overall advantage.
Taylor goes on to describe how “one of the defining metaphors for the current Oxford University rugby team is to try to replicate the spirit of the Army in all we do. It is more about utilising that spirit and common bond to make the whole team greater than the sum of its parts.
“Even though none of us have any connections to the fifty-five Blues who gave their lives so willingly, we will have something very special in common with them at Twickenham on Varsity Match day. It will be a privilege to pay our respects to them.”
The Varsity Match last year saw Oxford run out 33-15 winners, even after they had been reduced to fourteen men after scrum-half Sam Egerton had been sent-off following an off the ball incident. Tries by Egerton himself, Carter, Lamont and Gardner all helped the Dark Blues to a fairly convincing victory over their rivals with Oxford being seen to be particularly dominant at the scrum. However, even though the Dark Blues have had the better of the most recent Varsity exchanges, Taylor is insistent that the team are still more than motivated to make it five victories on the trot.
He says “going for the record five wins in a row is a big incentive, but that doesn’t really motivate me as much as the task of bringing a new Oxford squad together this season does. I’m really motivated by the players in the squad and the experience of going through a journey together,”
Cambridge skipper Harry Peck, who is following in his father’s footsteps in also captaining the Light Blues, is determined to put the memories of recent Varsity encounters behind him; saying “we cannot carry the baggage of previous defeats. The shared goal of a long awaited victory is something we will use to unify and motivate our players.”
The Varsity Match is being played at 14:30 on 11th December at Twickenham Stadium. Tickets are still available and can be purchased via the Varsity Match 2014’s website.
1620: Bad news everyone. The game has been called off. A real shame, this could have been a close, exciting match. Still, lets not be too downtrodden, we have seen one excellent match today, with a professional and clinical performance from the Oxford Women. We have had a great time reporting it, and I hope it hasn’t been too hard for you to put up with reading it. See you at Lords. Bye for now from Ben and Jack.
1614: Inspection soon, hold your breaths…
1610: Shout out to the guys in the Oxford Portuguese society, who have tweeted the blog. People are following all over the world. Who’s your favourite Portuguese cricketer? Tweet us @oxstusport with your opinions
1606: Rihanna now, its her classic “We Found Love”. The prospects for this match aren’t in a hopeless place though, as the covers are being removed. It hasn’t rained for a while, but it is still overcast.
1601: Holla. The ducks have gone. A sign the outfield is drying? You tell me.
1559: Cambridge on the other hand are playing football. Let’s hope they’re better at cricket… or not as the case may be. For those of you who are interested the mallards seem to have settled down in silly mid off. Two males and a female. Water is being swept off the pitch like tears off the face of John Terry after they stopped making Nuts.
1553: Waterfowl watch: They’re still there. Oxford fielders are practising with one of those nerf contraptions. California by Phantom Planet is blaring over the PA. A personal request from Athers perhaps?
1542: Fieldy here… not sure if we’re on or not for this one, it’s been raining pretty steadily for a while, but there’ll be an inspection from the umpires at quarter past four so stay tuned for that. The irony of the only ducks on the wicket literally being water fowl is not wasted on me, nor the hoards of cricket fans that have made it down.
1345: 3 required… we’re so close now. It would take a very English collapse to lose it from here… and they run three with a big cut through third man and OXFORD WIN!!! Everyone is crying, this is a time of really intense joy. Atherton must be devastated (comment pending). Let’s hope the men can follow up this with a victory of their own. A really classy batting performance from the dark blues took this out of Cambridge’s hands, just 12.1 overs needed to chase down a score that was never looking very competitive. Assured performances from Stuchfield, Bath and Gough saw us over the line and some quality spin from Kashyap lit up the first innings. Shaking with joy I turn to Ben but he is gone – no doubt streaking across the outfield in a fit of unbridled, unadulterated passion. I wish I could join him, but I’ve got to stay for the men’s. See you at three.
1343: Big dog Michael Atherton has just turned up. he’ll no doubt be distraught to see the Cambridge women on the verge of losing, as an ex-Tab himself. We have fond memories of his matchsaving century against South Africa. Meanwhile, Oxford continue to tick along, requiring only 6 now, its just a hit away!
1340: Driven through the covers, lovely languid stuff from the captain Gough, and she gets three for it. Bath then Drives one through the covers for four. The target is only 11 away now, you can almost smell it, and the crowd are cheering every run.
1335: 19 required now with eight wickets remaining. Apologies for my mistake earlier, we are in fact in the 10th over. Phew.
1330: Huge four pulled through sqaure leg and the Oxford score is ticking along quite nicley… but no sooner do my sturdy, manly fingers tap out those words she is given out LBW! A great showing there from Stuchfield, making a cool 31 off just 24. A matchwinning innings.
1328: A really short delivery there punished by the Oxford batsman, but a dive that would make Luis Suarez blush stops four. Good cricket.
1325: Some great running there from Oxford takes full advantage of the misfield. Into the eleventh over now at 49-1.
1323: This girl finds the gap at square leg and creams the ball over the boundary for a lovely four. Nine off the over brings the Oxford score to 40-1 at the start of the tenth over. 78 required. Are we camping? Because this is intense.
1318: Huge four there, but she’s dropped on the next ball. And another hook for four means this is looking to be an expensive over for the light blues. Some really good fielding though and the damage has been limited to eight off that last over.
1317: Seven off that last over then, including the four. Some really confident batting there – she’s not afraid of a bit of spin.
1315: Four more! A delicate sweep sends the ball racing to the boundary. Don’t bother running.
1313: A tidy over there, with some neat fielding from Cambridge. 15-1
1308: Dropped. No one wants to see that. Well, maybe about half and seeing as it was an Oxford batsman probably most of the people here. And dropped again! More drops than Skrillex’s first album.
1306: Wicket Big appeal… and it’s been given. Lbw and the first wicket has fallen already. 6 off the over plus one wicket and I’m going berserk. This is why I love cricket. The bowler’s style is a little unorthodox but it seems to have done the trick.
1304: Fieldy here to see you through this innings which can only be described as samba stuff as we get underway. A wide to kick off the over and some cagey batting. Who’s excited? Literally tens of people who have made it down. But where are you? Get down here.
1303: The batsmen are out and the fielding team are ready. LET’S PLAY CRICKET.
1259: The story of the innings then, is that Cambridge started brightly, but soon fell away. The openers were the only two to reach double figures, with Webster scoring 1o, and Nikhila Ravi 27. The pick of the figures was Kashyap’s 2 for 10, while Gough was the most economical, conceding only 8 in her four over spell, with two maidens.
1255: Second innings coming up here, with the players starting to re-emerge. Try and come on down if you can.
1250: Wicket This has been a tight final over, although I suppose that’s easier when bowling to the no. 11. Still she is hitting yorker length consistently. The Cambridge innings has petered out after a bright start. They try and run a bye of the last ball, and its farcical, with the batsman left stranded, as Oxford have all the time in the world to whip the bails off. An excellent effort in the field then, and Oxford have to chase 78.
1245: Wicket Great work at Third Man, a quick throw and the keeper whips the bails off. Not even a dive can save the batsman. Cambridge are now 9 down, and will just be hoping to play out the twenty overs.
1241: Wicket Same old story, another Cambridge batsman skys one, and cover settles underneath it. If Oxford can keep Cambridge under 90, that could be the game won. We think the score is 75/8, so they have a good chance of doing that.
1240: A four is edged down to third man. Cambridge will take runs any way they come at this stage. 17 overs gone.
1238: Wicket Slapped back to the bowler, simple as you like. Cambridge are seven down,for somewhere between 70 and 80.
1236: Agonisingly close to a seventh, the ball is skied up, and slips through the hands of point. Can’t be too critical, she made good ground to get there. They are ticking along here. If they get 100 it will be at least something to bowl at.
1231: “All swing, no ding” is the cry from the crowd. A leading edge drops in no-mans land, and there is some cagey running. They run one from a tuck off the hips, but Cambridge really need boundaries. The score on the scoreboard has dropped significantly, it now says Cam are 65/6, so we are not exactly sure what the score is. More updates when we get them. The rain is picking up, but they’re staying out there for the moment.
1228: Wicket You bet they can. A feigned shy at the stumps brings “ooohs” from the crowd, and its clearly psyched out the bastman, as she spoons one to mid-off next ball. 69/6
1227: Another good over then. Can Oxford run through the tail and leave their batsman with as little work as possible?
1226: Wicket and no sooner had my delicate fingers typed those fateful words, when Wilson scoops one up to square leg, and is caught for a duck. Cambridge are now 69/5, and 110 is looking a long way away.
1225: Wicket a direct hit from cover sees Allison run out for 5. This brings the explosive Wilson to the crease, a hit-or miss batsman apparently.
1225: A word from Helen Webster, who says Cam are aiming for 110 or 120. Scores of schoolchildren have just turned up, hoping to see a close game.
1219: Pulled for four, lovely shot, although its what the ball deserved. A wide slips out, and Oxford need to keep things tight. especially as Cambridge are looking to accelerate now. A push for one behind point, and another wide. the bowler comes back well as the bastman fishes and misses. The score is 59/3 after 12.
1216: More guile from Kashyap, an uppish cut drops short of point, and a thick edge behind is dropped. there are a couple of wides in there as well, but that ends an excellent spell, 2 for not many, we’ll get the exact figures as soon as possible.
1212: At the other end, a reasonable over, with a wide and an LBW shout, costs 5. Kashyap will continue and bowl out now.
1210: It’s Ridhi Kashyap, that bowler, absolutely lovely stuff from her.
1208: Good innings that from Ravi, of 27. Cambridge will be glad to see the back of this bowler, whose name we are trying our best to find out.
1206: Wicket Big, big wicket, as Ravi departs. That was tossed up so high, would have cleared any net. It was full, and edged behind, whence the keeper hung on after a fumble. Cambridge 40/3 with two new batsmen in, and in a bit of trouble.
1205: Allison is the new batsman, but she is up against a bowler in form, mixing up the flight well and and getting some decent flight.
1204: Wicket And it is a wicket now, the pressure clearly told. Neeru Ravi, twin of the batsman at the other end, tried to clear cover, but only ended up spooning it up for an easy catch. Oxford can’t rest on their laurels though, not while Nikhila Ravi is still there. There is an LBW appeal next ball, and that ends a mixed over, but a productive one for Oxford.
1204: A full toss is absolutely hammered away past fine leg, great shot. Nikhila Ravi then picks up a single to the fielder who’s dropped slightly deeper. This only brings the newer batsman to the crease and she’s looked scratchy…
1156: Absolutely lovely flight, great to see in a T20. Another misfield, and is that a drop? Hard to tell from here, may have been a thin edge behind. We’ll have to wait for the slo-mo. A shame about that misfield, spoilt what would have been a lovely maiden.
1154: Despite the misfields, Oxford won’t be too unhappy with this start. Another tight over is squeezed out, and Cambridge are 32/1 after 6.
1151: Wicket Case of the commentator’s curse, as Helen Webster misses a sweep and is castled. There was some better fielding from Oxford in that over, which perhaps increased the pressure leading to a rash shot.
1150: Its a bit overcast by the way, but do come on down.
1147: Ravi is starting to look more comfortable, with a cut through point bearing fruit. The rest of the over though is on the spot, and it only ends up costing 7.
1145: This Helen Webster though, opening for Cambridge, is a treat to watch, with some wonderful driving through cover. Even her shots for no runs look classy. “Uses her bat like a paintbrush” says Jack, and he’s not wrong. 8 off that Moore over, with a bit more sloppy Oxford fielding thrown in.
1143: Apparently a few of the Cambridge women have exams today, great tactical arrangements from Oxford
1140: An excellent second over though, from Gough to Ravi, costing only 1.
1138: Sloppy first over from Oxford, overthrows and misfields meaning it costs 9.
1136: Cambridge have won the toss and elected to bat
1133: Welcome to the OxStu’s live coverage of Varsity T20 in the Parks
17.07 There it is then, the Tabs win three on the bounce. They were deserved winners last year after a thrilling contest but this year was slightly different. Oxford will feel they had the chances to win the game while Farmer was untested in goal. Neither side really did enough to win the game outright after 90, and from about 60 minutes onwards penalties always looked likely. Some fine penalty taking from Cambridge it must be said, hitting the corners with every effort, can’t apportion any blame on Farmer for that. A few mentions for some stand-out performances. Ben May was excellent at the back with a couple of crucial last-ditch interventions. Reminiscent of JT in his pomp. Rubenstein and Fletcher moved the ball well at times in midfield whilst Beck-Friis caused problems for the Cambridge defence with his power up front. Official Man of the Match goes to Mike Moneke for an ox-like performance at the heart of the Dark Blues’ defence. Well played sir, unlucky to be on the losing side. The stadium announcer is having a mare as Cambridge come up to collect the trophy he congratulates “the victorious Oxford side”. Alright don’t rub it in mate. It’s a clean sweep for the Tabs having won all the Varsity Football matches as ‘We Are The Champions’ rings out around Craven Cottage. Probably the only celebrations this ground has seen all season. As the fans filter out a Cambridge journo comes over to me and concedes that the best team lost. Scant consolation, but an honourable performance it was. We’ll leave you there as we make a dash for the river. Don’t forget to follow our live coverage of that event as well. I’ve heard the BBC has gone downhill a bit, so don’t bother with them.
CAMBRIDGE WIN THE 130th VARSITY FOOTBALL MATCH 4-2 ON PENALTIES. 0-0 AFTER 90 MINUTES.
MISS: Heardman pushes it wide of the left post. Oxford collapse to the floor as Cambridge celebrate.
GOAL: Gorringe goes low, Farmer guesses right but can’t get there. Heardman must score…
GOAL: Ben May sends Kent sprawling as he tucks it in low to the right, the keeper going in the opposite direction.
GOAL: Baynham-Herd for Cambridge. Farmer gets fingertips on it but not enough to push it away from goal.
MISS: Tozer blasts over. Farmer, it’s over to you.
GOAL: Hutton for Cambridge, sends Farmer the wrong way.
GOAL: Rubenstein goes the same way for Oxford. 1-1
GOAL: Excellent penalty. Low to Farmer’s left, no chance.
16.58 Cambridge Captain Anthony Childs takes responsibility for the first pen…
16.56 Such a cruel way to decide a match, penalties. A fairly even game but I give it to Oxford on points. Teams huddle up around the centre circle. I’m assuming those two late substitutes for Oxford were brought in with penalties in mind, although I do remember playing in goal in a college game when Dan Ginger hit the bar from the spot. Let’s hope he’s got that out of his system.
16.53 Swung in low to the near post by Tozer but Smith can only toe poke over the bar. That indeed was the last act of 90 minutes as Moss blows up. Penalties it is.
16.53 Last chance. Corner for Oxford. Everyone bar the full backs are up…
16.50 Hobkinson is looking knackered at right back as Gorringe storms past him but Moneke stretches a leg and intercepts the cross before it reaches Hutton. Oxford bring on Dan Ginger for Adriaenssens and Adam Heardman for Fletcher.
16.48 Oxford launch a free kick high into the box with Moneke running onto it but Kent catches comfortably this time. Nervous moments. Oxford line up a couple of subs. Specialist penalty takers?
16.47 Good news for Oxford as penalties loom. They have far less Englishmen in their side than Cambridge. Can only bode well. Four minutes of added time.
16.46 SUBSTITUTION John Gorringe on for Daniel Forde as Cambridge shuffle the pack. Two minutes of normal time remaining.
16.44 Game livening up and about time too. Best chance of the game so far by a distance as Oxford break with speed and substitute Smith leaps like a salmon to meet a floated cross from the left but heads agonizingly over. Should he have hit the target? Quite possibly. The Dark Blues suddenly look a bit more dynamic. A further foray down the left results in a corner which is again messily cleared by Cambridge. They haven’t looked comfortable at all when the ball has been put into the box.
16.43 Ben May has made some absolutely crucial interventions this afternoon and he does exceptionally well again to haul back Zac Baynham-Herd (must have been the substitute that I missed, mystery solved) who was clean through on goal. May puts in a good challenge and Oxford clear their lines.
16.39 As we reach 82 minutes, just to clarify, no extra-time. Straight to pens. Loving the tweets coming in, I didn’t think anyone actually followed us. Keeping myself and Alex entertained. Great stuff.
16.37 OUCH! Hobkinson is down after Hutton takes him out in his follow through. Crowd up in arms but I don’t think there was any malice in that. Looks painful though. Another banner in the crowd reads: “It’s Hobbycraft”. Let’s hope that can act as some inspiration for the full back who looks in some pain. Back on his feet but hobbling…
16.36 SUBSTITUTIONS: That was Essman’s last act as he is replaced by Matt Smith of Linacre College. Cambridge also make a change but I didn’t see who it was…sorry about that. Student journalism for you.
16.34 Essman so nearly through on goal. Good work from Fletcher winning the ball back for Oxford on the edge of the box, sliding in Essman who weaves his way around one defender before a superbly timed challenge from Michael Smith averts the danger. The resulting corner works its way to Adriaenssens on the edge of the box but his shot is blocked amidst shouts for handball. Moss is unmoved. Another corner for Oxford is headed narrowly wide by May. A bit of sustained pressure from the Dark Blues.
16.28 Alex is waxing lyrical over Oxford’s captain Jack Fletcher. A comparison to Frank Lampard is shot down given that Fletcher is stick thin. Beck-Friis is now being described as a not-shit Torres. Strong, good in the air but can run with the ball as well. Highest complements. Alex is much wittier than me, so if you’re bored of this follow him @oxstusport. Keep the tweets coming.
16.23 Some persistent work from Griffiths as he tees up Childs on the edge of the box but his low drive is comfortably gathered by Farmer. Pretty sure that’s his first save of the game. The momentum, of which there is very little in general, is starting to ebb back to the Light Blues. Both sides limited to fairly unthreatening long shots. Some substitutes warming up along the touchline. Might be time for a few changes as we approach the 70 minute mark.
16.19 Free kick here for Cambridge. Very central, about 25 yards out. Griffiths looks like he’s down with cramp after a surging run. Very tame free kick from Childs into the base of the wall and Oxford clear.
16.17 In a lame attempt to put the commentators’ curse on the scoreline, my money is on penalties after a double doughnut. Let’s hope that works. Nothing is happening really, but to be honest I could start making it up and you would be none the wiser.
16.11 Moss really must have been bored. He’s decided to get involved in the play now, blocking a pass from Elias Adriaenssens (don’t make me type that too often Elias). Oxford with all the play at the minute, a floated cross from the left causing all sorts of problems in the Cambridge defence after a skied clearance is dropped by Kent but he just gets to the loose ball ahead of Tozer. I wouldn’t normally condone Stoke circa 2011, but lamp a few high balls into Beck-Friis and Kent looks liable to gifting Oxford a goal here. The long throw nearly worked, let’s get Pulis down here to bark some instructions.
16.06 A break from Cambridge ends with a heavy touch from Griffiths and the move breaks down. Rather sums up the game so far. Second half proceeding much as the first. Pinball in midfield. Oxford’s very own Rory Delap, otherwise known as Mike Essman, launches a long throw into the box and Ben May heads over from close range unmarked. Jon Moss looks bored.
16.02 KICK-OFF. No changes for the second half, hopefully we will see some changes in the scoreline.
15.50 What to make of all that then? A fairly tame first-half it must be said, there’s been a few half-openings but accuracy and precision have let both sides down at the crucial moments. Overhit and underhit passes makings things awkward for the front men. It’s an overused word but composure was always going to be a critical factor in today’s tense environment, but both sides seem to be lacking it at the moment. Speaking to the fans over the interval, they seem rather despondent. A calming word from the coaches during the break might be in order. If that doesn’t work, we might have to get the tinnies in for the penalty shoot-out.
15.45 HALF-TIME. Oxford manage one final foray before the break, Beck-Friis demonstrating he has skill and pace to complement his power in the air, running rings around Cambridge’s left-back to get to the byline and flashing a dangerous ball across the face of goal but unfortunately for Oxford there is no one there to meet it.
15.38 My colleague Mr Fox thinks Cambridge have had the better of this half. I’m not so sure. They’ve certainly got in behind the defence more frequently than Oxford but without ever threatening Farmer in goal. Oxford have been more intelligent when they’ve had the ball and for my money look more likely to make the breakthrough. Fletcher testing out Kent with a curling effort but it’s straight into the goalkeeper’s bread basket. The way this game is going though, a goal from either side is looking like a fairly unlikely scenario as we approach half time.
15.36 Temperatures rising, but the scoreline unfortunately isn’t. Claims for a free kick on the edge of the Dark Blue penalty area turned down by Moss. The Tabs unwisely give him a bit of backchat. He’s a Premiership referee, not some unused substitute in a college seconds’ match. Respect, please.
15.33 This game really needs a goal and Oxford have decided the best way to do that is to test out Kent with some more balls into the box. He does look suspect under the high ball I must say, flapping unconvincingly and needing to be bailed out by his defence. At the other end Cambridge try to get in behind the Oxford defensive line but May and Moneke have looked assured at the back after a shaky start.
15.31 Slight opening for Cambridge, Moneke is dispossessed by Sherif who is then briefly through on goal but is stopped in his tracks by an excellent covering tackle from Ben May. Exeter’s centre-back clearly has some supporters in today, a banner over in the corner reads: “May – True or False?” I’ll let you decide.
15.26 Rubenstein showing his experience here, directing play from midfield and marshaling his team-mates as he does so. Meanwhile, over in the animalistic world of Alex’s Twitter feed, Oxford have been transformed from sleeping kittens at the start of this game to a more assertive breed of cougar. Few chances still and neither keeper has been tested as of yet so the crowd decide to ramp up the volume of very loudly telling everyone which University they attend. The game is simmering…
15.23 The ground really is packed now, both sides of the terraces are close to capacity and there is a very contained, Oxbridge inflected mumble going around the Cottage. Always slightly disappointed by the fans at these games. Britain’s finest minds have had 130 years to come up with some witty and incisive chants and the best they can come up with is a sheepish “Ooooxfooord”. Do better Oxbridge.
15.20 I tell you what, although Oxford were probably the underdogs going into today’s game, indeed Rubenstein conceded as much in our exclusive squad profiles, they are really beginning to assert themselves now. Cambridge’s early fizz has gone out of the game and the Dark Blues are looking by far the calmer side in possession. Captain Jack Fletcher embarassing Solomon Elliott with a delightful little flip-flap down the right. Straight out of FIFA 14 that was.
15.16 OXFORD HIT THE POST. Lovely ball drifted in from the left from Aidan Barry, Fergus Kent comes flapping and misses and from a tight angle Brook Tozer hits the frame of the goal. Much better from the Dark Blues. What a chance that was for Oxford. Over on the Twitter feed Alex has compared Tozer to a small, blonde fish just to give you a visual image of proceedings.
15.15 First 15 have been a bit scrappy to say the least. Nerves are evident but the game is becoming stretched. Oxford are beginning to claw their way back into the contest, the big no.9 Beck-Friis bossing things in the air.
15.09 First bit of niggle so far today. Beck-Friis is scythed down and our referee today, the Premier League’s Jon Moss, has a word or two with the dirty Tab tackler.
15.05 Some hairy defending from Oxford there. Haitham Sherif this time down the right for Cambridge, his low cross is poorly cleared by Ben May straight to Chris Hutton, but he gets the block in to redeem himself. Someone needs to get a grip of this ball for Oxford in midfield and calm some nerves.
15.02 Cambridge with the early pressure, Daniel Forde with some direct running down the right-hand side but so far Barry has been equal to it. Ezra Rubenstein, returning Blue and OUAFC stalwart is already cajoling his troops, but Oxford can’t seem to get a hold of the ball at the moment.
15.01 Will run you through the Cambridge line-up as soon as we can. OxStu website playing up as expected. Shambles, the previous editors of this paper are chumps.
15.00 And we’re underway, Cambridge kicking off from left to right
14.52 Let’s run you through the starting line-ups, beginning with Oxford. * denotes returning Blue
- Jamie Farmer – Balliol
- Tom Hobkinson – St Edmund’s Hall
- Aidan Barry – St John’s
- Alias Adrianessens – Wolfson
- Mike Moneke * – Trinity
- Ben May – Exeter
- Brook Tozer – Wolfson
- Jack Fletcher – Exeter (captain)
- Peder Beck-Friis * – Christchurch
- Ezra Rubenstein * – Trinity
- Mike Essman * – Exeter
and on the bench:
12. Alex Tsaptinos -Pembroke; 14 Dan Ginger – Keble; 15 Adam Heardman; 16 Matt Smith – St John’s; 17 Ben Szreter – Wadham
Cambridge University AFC:
- Fergus Kent * – Pembroke
- Simon Court * – Fitzwilliam
- Solomon Elliott * – Homerton
- James May * – Christ’s
- Michael Smith – Trinity
- James Day * – Jesus
- Daniel Forde * – St John’s
- Anthony Childs * – Homerton (captain)
- Haitham Sherif * – Girton
- Chris Hutton – Selwyn
- Rory Griffiths * – Trinity Hall
And warming the bench for the Light Blues: 7. Zac Baynham-Herd – Queen’s; 12. John Gorringe – Queen’s; 13. Henry Warne – Fitzwilliam; 14. Rich Wolstenhulme – Darwin; 16. Chris Fountain – King’s
14.47 Varsity matches are always difficult to predict given that the two sides play in different area leagues and the squads are almost entirely overhauled year to year, so last year’s result probably has little bearing on this afternoon. Rick Totten, the stand out performer for Cambridge last year, has moved on and Oxford are without their long-term goal machine Julian Austin. Varsity pedigree remains however, particularly in the form of Ezra Rubenstein who scored for the Dark Blues in last year’s fixture. Cambridge probably start as slight favourites, given that they have won back-to-back promotions and now play in the highest tier of UK University football: the Premier South, although they struggled this year and only avoided relegation because Gloucestershire were unable to field a side in their relegation six-pointer. Oxford on the other hand finished the season strongly to take third place in BUCS Midlands 1A. OUAFC skipper Jack Fletcher nailed it when he told OxStu Sport, “It’s going to come down to who takes their chances on the day, who shows more composure and who comes out of the blocks fastest.”
14.41 A potted history of this fixture for you. This is the 130th Varsity meeting and after all those years it could not be closer. Oxford have 50 wins to Cambridge’s 49, with 30 ending in draws. Fortunately there is no chance of the dreaded deadlock today as penalties will decide the match if the scores are level after 90 minutes. A draw in Varsity? What an anti-climax. More incredibly the goal difference stands at just +1 to Oxford, with 205 goals to the Tabs’ 204. Cambridge have won the last two fixtures, prevailing 3-2 in 2013 thanks to a quite brilliant hat-trick from Rick Totten. In truth, that scoreline flattered Oxford slightly, who were well outplayed on the day. Here’s hoping for a reversal of fortunes this afternoon.
14.30 So, it’s only taken 130 years, but Oxbridge has finally cottoned onto the fact that hosting the Varsity Football match at a Thames Riverside Stadium on the same day as the Boat Race is actually a bloody good idea. We’ve got a double-header of sporting action today and you can follow it all here. What else could you possibly ask for? I’m here to talk you through the footballing action live from the gantry of Craven Cottage and my dear friend and colleague Alexander Fox is manning the @oxstusport Twitter feed; keep those tweets coming in. The teams are already out warming up on the pitch, the stands are…umm…totally empty, but I’m sure they will fill up soon enough, we’re expecting a crowd of around 3,000 today. Strap yourselves in and get ready for a day of drama, tension, typos and thrills and spills galore.
It is just over a year ago now that Oxford succumbed to an agonizing 3-2 loss at the hands of Cambridge at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park. Following months of hard training and a promising end to the season which saw the Dark Blues eventually steer well clear of relegation, the side are ready to go again at Fulham’s Craven Cottage. The Oxford Student runs you through the men who have been chosen to stop the rot of successive Varsity defeats. * denotes returning Blue
You can follow live text of the game from the Oxford Student from 14.30 onwards on Sunday.
15 Appearances & 1 Assist – 2013/2014
Course: MSc Pharmacology
Position: Defensive Midfielder
Team Supported: Anderlecht (Belgium)
Style of play in 5 words: Left foot, 50-50s, headers, much talking
Career highlight to date: Winning the league in the Belgian 3rd (2008-2009) and 5th Division (2012-2013)
Views on Varsity: I expect it to be a close game with few chances for either side. One goal might be enough in this game and we should therefore make sure that our organization is perfect for the full 90 minutes. We are peaking at the right moment, we are ready and hopefully the Oxford fans are as well because we will need their support to win the Varsity trophy
19 Appearances, 4 Goals & 2 Assists – 2013/2014
College: Christ Church
Course: M.Phil. Economics
Team Supported: Djurgarden (Sweden)
Style of play in 5 words: Physical target man. Good awareness.
Career highlight to date: BUCS Final, Bramall Lane 2011 (with Edinburgh University)
9 Appearances – 2013/14
Team Supported: Portsmouth
Style of play in 5 words: Confident, organised, communicative, shot-stopper
Career highlight to date: Playing for Millwall Reserves
13 Appearances – 2013/14
Position: Centre Midfield
Team Supported: Newcastle
Style of play in more than 5 words: high intensity, short-passing and ball winning
Career highlight to date: Playing in Stade Oceane [Le Havre] in front of 12,000 people as a warm-up act to Zidane.
Views on varsity: Varsity games are always very tight. It’s going to come down to who takes their chances on the day, who shows more composure and who comes out of the blocks fastest.
13 Appearances & 1 Goal – 2013/14
Position: Centre Midfield
Team Supported: Blackpool
Style of play in 5 words: Lanky, play-making from deep midfield
Career highlight to date: Playing Real Madrid Youth in Madrid, but a win in Varsity will top that!
Views on varsity: The team has come into real form at the end of the season, and plenty of competition for places has led to a massive step-up by all. We’ll win by staying calm and trusting each other 100%.
19 Appearances, 1 Goal & 2 Assists – 2013/14
College: St John’s
Position: Right/Left Wing Forward
Team Supported: Newcastle United
Style of play in 5 words: Almost entirely unlike Hughie Gallacher.
Career highlight to date: Matty Smith’s free-kick in training this one time. It was really good. Or scoring twice in Centaurs Varsity.
Views on Varsity: Howay the lads!
17 Appearances & 1 Assist – 2013/14
College: St Edmund Hall
Position: Right Back
Team Supported: Arsenal
Style of play in 5 words: Wannabe Sagna without the hair
Career highlight to date: Winning the Premier League with Teddy Hall
Views on Varsity: Feeling confident and hoping that half a year of hard work pays off!
22 Appearances, 1 Goal & 1 Assist – 2013/14
Course: Engineering Science
Position: Centre Back
Team Supported: Chelsea
Style of play in 5 words: one step ahead of opposition
Career highlight to date: Scoring a last minute equaliser against Atletico Madrid U18s last year on tour
Views on Varsity: After a slightly slow start to the season which is expected due to the large influx of players into the squad, we have grown as a team and have been looking really good recently both in our defensive shape and in building our attacks and it is safe to say that the talent of players we have is the best I’ve been involved with in my time at Oxford. Cambridge have had a hold of the Varsity trophy for the last few years so it’s time it fell back into dark blue hands and with the quality of our squad I am feeling confident about producing the right result on Sunday.
16 Appearances & 1 Goal, 2013/2014
Team Supported: Chelsea FC
Style of play in 5 words: I eat strikers for breakfast
Career highlight to date: Almost being sent off by Lee Probert in Varsity 2013 (said it was ‘a good yellow’. I disagree)
Views on Varsity: Pretty unlucky to lose last year after going ahead twice. It’ll be a tight match, but there’s only one winner here.
26 Appearances, 14 Goals & 6 Assists – 2013/14
Course: BPhil (Philosophy)
Team Supported: Manchester United
Style of play in 5 words: Drift infield, find holes, dribble
Career highlight to date: Winning Varsity at the Kassam in 2011
Views on Varsity: Most people would have us as underdogs going into the game, but I’m quietly confident we can pull off a Dark Blue win.
26 Appearances, 7 Goals & 7 Assists – 2013/14
Course: DPhil Chemical Biology
Team Supported: Manchester United
Style of play in 5 words: Quick movement and throw balls
Career highlight to date: University of Bristol Varsity at Bristol Rovers ground.
Views on Varsity: The build up has been super exciting. We are going to score more than them. It really doesn’t matter who the opposition are, we are going to win.
10 Appearances – 2013/14
Team Supported: West Brom
Style of play in 5 words: Agile and intimidating shot stopper
Career highlight to date: Playing for the Blues vs. Atletico Madrid U18’s
Views on Varsity: I’m confident in our ability to handle the occasion better and play our style of football confidently and get a result!
16 Appearances & 2 Assists – 2013/14
Position: Centre Midfield
Team Supported: Reading/AEK Athens
Style of play in 5 words: Small but battling, nippy and dedicated
Career highlight to date: Nutmegging Ezra
Views on Varsity: We won’t give them any ground, they won’t have the levels of commitment and teamwork we have.
26 Appearances & 1 Assist, 2013/14
College: St John’s
Position: Left Back
18 Appearances & 1 Goal – 2013/14
Course: PhD in Geophysics
Position: Centre Midfield
24 Appearances, 8 Goals & 3 Assists – 2013/14
Course: Masters’ in Public Health
Position: Attacking Midfield Midfield