31st January 2018
Cambridge 4 - 3 Oxford Brookes
CUAFC negotiated another tricky, at times haphazard, game with all 3 points and their unbeaten run this season still intact after coming from behind to complete the league double over Oxford Brookes.
Following 7 weeks without competitive football, punctuated by a successful tour to Malaga and a friendly last week vs UCL, the Blues were eager to pick up where they left things last term, hot on the heels of Oxford in the race for promotion.
If Cambridge still had their minds on their excursions to the warmer climes of southern Spain then the howling wind, awkward sunlight and muddy terrain of Clare’s pitches landed them back into the harsh realities of BUCS football with a bump.
However, the first 10 minutes bore the hallmarks of the bright interchanges and dogged pressing that had defined the Blues season thus far and it wasn’t long before they made an immediate impact on the game.
Stefan Wolf’s set-piece delivery, hugely reliable this season, proved the key again as he swung in a corner from the left hand side for George Herring, who darted into the six yard box and tapped home to notch his first goal of the year.
The Blues early joy proved to be short-lived as Oxford Brookes responded in resilient fashion a few minutes later, capitalising on some loose ricochets in the box from a corner to level the scores.
The immediate equaliser blew the game wide open, far too wide for manager Jez George’s liking, as the last 20 minutes of the half saw 4 more goals added to the scoreline in a chaotic goal glut.
Firstly, Joe Ellis regained Cambridge’s lead following fine work from the ever lively Ben Bolderson and Joe Gregory down the left hand side. The finish was all of Ellis’ own making, however, a sweetly struck 25 yard drive which flew beyond the stranded Brooke’s goalkeeper.
Again, Cambridge failed to retain the composure usually of second nature to them as Brooke’s capitalised on two moments of uncharacteristic sloppiness to take a shock lead. A fine volley which left goalkeeper George Boughton with no chance and a terrific header into the top corner within the space of two minutes sparked scenes of jubilation amongst the away side.
Stirred into action, the Blues began to rebuild their intensity and a wicked Jack Congdon delivery from the right hand side somehow eluded the waiting home jerseys in the box. Luckily for Cambridge, ever-present danger man Henry Alexander was well positioned to haul the home side back into the game on the stroke of half-time, sweeping home another fierce Ellis drive from close range.
Following some stern words at the interval, the second half witnessed a welcome return to the sort of controlled, assured performance that went missing in earlier parts of the game. In particular, the central defensive pairing of Oscar Melbourne and Michael Hofstetter regained their aerial and physical dominance over the opposing team’s forwards to limit Brookes to very few chances.
With Ben Bolderson and Ollie Lerway proving ever more difficult to handle on the wings and Cambridge’s middle 3 moving the ball crisply, it seemed only a matter of time before a winner was found. Sure enough, it was the combination of Wolf and Herring, who started goalscoring proceedings, on hand to clinch all three points for the Blues.
Wolf’s whipped delivery again proved too hot to handle for the Brookes defence, and Herring capped a fine display by forcing the ball over the line for 4-3.
The introduction of Nick Gallagher, an impressive presence on tour, and Yusuf Mushtaq, who put in an accomplished shift up front, saw Cambridge over the line to maintain their 100% home record.
With Oxford dropping points against Warwick, the profits of a muddy, battling affair seemed even more valuable as Cambridge return to the top of the league with three decisive games left to play.