Sports Team reporter Alex Bonner was present for a breathless encounter between Exeter and Oxford at the Water Astro.
Oxford University defeated a spirited Exeter side 5-4, in what proved a very exciting match from beginning to end for both sets of fans. Despite losing the match, Exeter performed well throughout, meaning the result could have equally gone in their favour. The visitors took an early lead in the first half, meaning Exeter had to perform the difficult task of catch-up from then on. The scoreline illustrated the quality of hockey on display, but also the apparent desire of both sets of players to gain victory for their team.
Having dominated the early phases of the first half, Oxford found themselves controlling both play and possession in the first ten minutes of the match. Exeter had to contain some early Oxford pressure to keep the score level, with some excellent tackling from Exeter captain Ben Upton symbolising Exeter’s resilience at this stage in proceedings. The significance of this match was clearly apparent to both teams, with a few sets of players clashing early on, much to the amusement of the spectators.
Dealing with the pressure of the first ten minutes proved significant, as Exeter began to reassert themselves, which resulted in a much more visible contest between the two sides. Oxford had to cope with successive short corners, with the visitors defending stoutly to keep the scores level.
The resilience of Oxford’s defence at this stage was in evidence, causing much visible frustration for the Exeter faithful. Exeter utilised their substitutes well, with club captain Sam Plater’s introduction adding some much needed creativity to the Exeter setup. Achieving a breakthrough at this stage proved difficult, with both sides’ defences suffocating any notable chances.
In the latter stages of the first half, Oxford began to reassert control, with their creativity unsettling Exeter’s back line. Winning a free kick in a crucial area proved significant, with Oxford capitalising to secure a first half lead, much to the delight of the Oxford crowd present in the stands.
The half time interval proved the break Exeter needed, with the team starting the second half in much better fashion. Sam Plater, having come close to scoring in the first half, had a great chance to level proceedings, with his shot unfortunately falling just wide of the goal.
Exeter, having built on this early momentum, began to dictate play through some excellent displays of passing play. Having squandered a set of short corners in the first half, the first short corner of the second half proved much more beneficial to Exeter, with Andrew Ross capitalising to level proceedings.
After another string of good saves by the Oxford keeper, Ross again capitalised from a second short corner to propel Exeter into an early second half lead. Despite earning a well deserved lead, Exeter couldn’t contain subsequent Oxford pressure, as they Oxford responded well to Exeter’s performance in the early stages of the second half. The short corner again proved decisive, scored by Oxford to level the score at 2-2.
Levelling proceedings proved decisive for Oxford, with Oxford now dictating play with some intrinsic and precise passing that certainly unsettled Exeter’s defence. Some precise passing created an excellent opportunity for Oxford, which they capitalised on to take a 3-2 lead.
Further pressure lead to another glorious opportunity, which was despatched with ease meaning Oxford now took a commanding 4-2 lead. Oxford’s clinical finishing was certainly in evidence in the game’s second half.
Despite finding themselves two goals down, Exeter began to reassert themselves again, with Tom Samuel latching upon a loose ball to give Exeter hope of staging a remarkable comeback. Andrew Ross found himself sin binned at a crucial stage of the match, with Oxford capitalising on the advantage of having an additional player to take a decisive 5-3 lead. Hope was restored following an excellent Exeter counter attack, with Exeter dispatching the chance well to give themselves a faint hope of staging a remarkable comeback.
Oxford’s defence proved too resilient in the game’s final phases, meaning Oxford triumphed over a bitterly disappointed Exeter side 5-4. Despite the loss, Exeter’s performance was full of merit, which should give them confidence when preparing for subsequent fixtures.bookmark me