Cambridge 2 West Herts 2
Following a disappointing 3-2 reversal at the hands of Chelmsford the previous week, the Blues headed to West Herts hoping to turn around their recent run of results against last year’s league runners-up. The match started well for Cambridge, who controlled the tempo well, keeping the ball and making the opposition run. Good distribution from the back fed David McLean and Charles Hardy in midfield who caused the opposition all sorts of problems down the flanks. Several chances came and went until McLean made an incisive run from midfield, driving around the West Herts defence into the D and laying off the ball for Sam Grimshaw, whereupon the veteran striker produced an emphatic finish to put the light blues 1-0 up.
Cambridge continued to dominate the first half, but failed to increase their lead and went into half-time with only a slender one goal lead to show for their efforts. The half-time team talk was dominated by reminders of previous weeks’ missed opportunities, as Cambridge knew that preserving the same pattern of play in the first half would ensure them the victory.
The second half started at a high pace, with Cambridge continuing to dominate, particularly through man-of-the-match Will Cairns. A second short corner of the game was won following some smart work in the D, and Felix Styles converted to make it 2-0 to the boys in blue. West Herts’ frustration began to tell, and the men from Watford were reduced to 10, then 9 men after yellow cards for a horrific tackle on McLean and much ensuing dissent. Cambridge couldn’t make the pressure tell, even with the two man advantage, and once West Herts began to threaten once they were back up to their full complement. They worked it into the D and were awarded a short corner following a melee of sticks. Their flicker put away an unstoppable drag to Morrison’s right, hitting the side board and making it 2-1 with 10 minutes on the clock.
West Herts pressure continued, and despite a few breakaway chances for Cambridge, the students were getting nervy. With 4 minutes to go, it all went pear-shaped as Will Harrison and David McLean were sin binned in quick succession. Cambridge were now down to 9 men for what remained of the game, and with their numerical advantage beginning to tell in the closing stages, West Herts were awarded a last-minute penalty corner. The flicker produced a carbon copy of his first goal to draw the sides level, leaving West Herts to celebrate their great escape and Cambridge to ponder yet another two points dropped.
While this impressive Cambridge performance was much improved from the previous week, the Blues’ inability to hold on to a lead will be a prominent concern for captain Felix Styles and coach Chris Marriott as the team heads into its final two fixtures of the year.