Lougborough University 2nds 0 Cambridge University 4
The newly-promoted Blues travelled north on Wednesday having started their campaign with two convincing home league wins at “fortress” Fenners. However, the prospect of a match against a Loughborough University side, renowned for their sporting strength, was enough to remove any sense of complacency.
The Blues, with an unchanged lineup, found it hard to get the ball off the technically adept opposition in the early stages, but took the lead against the run of play. A free-kick won by Kerrigan down the right flank was whipped in dangerously by Rutt and headed home at the near post by centre back Smith. This settled the Blues somewhat, and the midfield triumvirate, of May, Broadway and Tsuda, adjusted tactically to allow Loughborough possession in their own half, while pressing effectively when the opposition probed into more threatening areas.
When the Blues did recover possession they counter-attacked quickly and incisively, and this led to the second goal halfway through the first 45. Rutt once again swung in a free kick, this time won by Totten, which the goalkeeper attempted to claim under pressure from Day. The ball fell to Kerrigan, leaving him the simple task of sweeping into the empty net from 6 yards out. The Blues grew into the latter stages of the half, switching cleverly towards their more familiar passing style, and made inroads on the possession statistics as they ground out the remainder of the first 45.
Half-time came with Loughborough having dominated possession but not worried Kent in the Cambridge goal, and the team talk from coach Che Wilson emphasised the need to look after the ball a bit better to help stave off tiredness.
The home side started the second period with a greater sense of urgency and started to commit more men into attack, though did not abandon their pass-and-move philosophy. Resolute defending limited Loughborough to a few teasing crosses and blocked attempts from around the edge of the area, while all the time they looked vulnerable to a Cambridge counter-attack.
In fact it was a counter-attack which produced the third goal, as Elliott, on for Forde at left midfield, released Kerrigan over the top, and the striker’s pace allowed him to beat his marker before rounding the goalkeeper and sliding the ball into the net.
This forced Loughborough to finally switch to a more direct approach, though this proved fruitless against the towering centre back partnership of Day and Smith. Cambridge’s energy on the break meant they remained the more likely to score, and Kerrigan should have sealed his hat trick from the penalty spot after Totten was hauled down in the box, but saw his spot kick saved by the Loughborough goalie.
However, there was just time for a fourth, and the Blues had saved the best until last. Childs’ channel ball was controlled and brought inside by Kerrigan, who then sent a beautiful ball right into Tsuda’s path. The American jinxed past his man onto his right foot and unleashed an unstoppable strike into the top corner.
The 4-0 score line flattered the Blues, but was testament to their incisiveness on the break and ruthlessness in either box. They now sit top of the BUCS Midland 1A table with a Cup game against Liverpool University to look forward to next week. A home game against Nottingham Trent on the 21st November will round off the Blues’ competitive fixtures for Michealmas.
In other CUAFC news, the Falcons registered the first victory of their campaign with a crushing 5-1 victory over rivals University of East Anglia. Goals from Lunn (pen) and Hutton, as well as a hat trick from Grigg secured both the Falcons’ win, and a “six-point Wednesday” for CUAFC.
Ross Broadway – Sports Reporter