FOOTBALL: The Blues cap off a perfect season with victory against The Other Place, and Lemar loves it.
Lemar once had a top three hit entitled ‘If there’s any justice’. Admittedly, I doubt I could recite a single lyric past the title, but if anything should have been played in the Light Blues post-match celebrations, it was this classic.
One man in particular will have been grateful for Lemar’s wise words. Man of the Match Rick Totten scored an own goal which allowed Oxford back into the match, but went on to score the winning penalty which saw the Varsity trophy return to Cambridge. The ultimate act of redemption.
Expectations coming into the match was mixed. The sides will have swapped places in the BUCS football pyramid with Cambridge gaining promotion at Oxford’s expense, but recent Varsity results have gone the way of Oxford. However, Cambridge clearly started the game brightly looking to make amends for this. They started with the greater confidence, looking to play the football – Sherif, in particular, looked to stretch the Oxford back four at every opportunity.
Sherif nodding the ball on to Kerrigan
As the half wore on, Cambridge became increasingly dominant, especially in midfield where Captain Paul Hartley provided the focal point which allowed the dynamos of Totten and Griffiths to venture further up the pitch. Their dominance was soon duly reward as Kerrigan broke the deadlock. A weighted through-ball allowed Kerrigan to bare down on Oxford keeper Haigh and the striker was just able to get enough contact on the ball to squeeze it underneath the keeper’s body.
Cambridge were able to build on their advantage in the first by striking again before halftime. Another crisp move allowed the ball to break quickly up field where the ball was cut back to the edge of the box. Hartley found himself in the ideal position and had the time and space to execute his shot into the back of the net. Cambridge were seemingly motoring while Oxford were left treading water. Halftime was an opportunity for Oxford to try and find themselves some traction.
Hartley surging forward
However, at the start of the second half Cambridge continued to be in gear and went in search of a third. First, Kerrigan went close, but could only scope over from a few yards out. Then, Totten dramatically hit the crossbar causing a goalmouth scramble where Cambridge were unable to bundle the ball home. It was all Light Blue.
Oxford decided to gamble by making a triple substitution and the tide started to turn. The substitutes seemed to add greater purpose to Oxford’s game. However, it was a Cambridge own goal which gave the team even greater purpose. Faced with a long ball from a free kick, all Totten could do was head into his own net. It looked as the cruel mistress of football was at work again.
It was now all Dark Blue. In particular, substitute Onuchukwu was spearheading the challenge by driving at an increasingly shaky Cambridge defence. One wondered why Oxford hadn’t set out like this. Indeed, it was another substitute who drew them level. Donald was able to take advantage of woeful Cambridge defending as he slammed the ball past keeper Karakashian. In the frantic last stages, neither side could prevent the lottery of penalties.
With the scores at 3-3 in the shoot-out, each side having missed one, it meant the consequences of missing another would mean the likely end game. Oxford’s second miss produced such a scenario for Cambridge: Totten’s shot at redemption. Totten didn’t need the invitation, the man calmly swept the ball down the middle to spark wild celebrations.
The victorious team with the trophy
Captain Paul Hartley had been dreaming of a league and Varsity double, and he got his wish. After his three previous Varsity losses and league near-misses, it was final proof that there is justice in the world.
Photographs by David Ponting
You can hear commentary of the game again thanks to our partners at Cam FM.