The Blues continued their perfect run of form on Wednesday as they beat city rivals Oxford Brookes 2-0 at Iffley Stadium, moving two points clear of second-placed Cambridge at the summit of the BUCS Midlands 1A league. Having not beaten Brookes since 2013 in any fixture, the Blues knew a win would send serious messages to the rest of the league, and put a real marker out with almost half of the BUCS season played.
The game started as most had anticipated, with Brookes looking to be the physically dominant side, making early use of the long ball into their strikers. However coach Mickey Lewis had the team well drilled in preparation, and Sam Hale, Alex Urwin and Cian Wade dealt with the early pressure well. As the first half continued, the Blues began to make their quality on the ball show, with the Brookes defence struggling to cope with the dynamic running from Dom Thelen and Mo Eghleilib. Soon the pressure told, with Thelen able to lob the Brookes keeper after a sweeping diagonal from Urwin. A solid end to the half saw the Blues leave the pitch in a very good position.
Brookes predictably came out after the break looking to impose themselves on the game once again. However the early pressure soon died down and the Blues were able to again dictate play, mixing between keeping the ball well and looking for the forward diagonal switch, making life very difficult for the Brookes midfield, who were unsure of whether to press the short pass or sit back to defend the long. A patient build up resulted in Eghleilib able to get a shot off in a crowded Brookes box, and the Blues were quickest to react to the first, second and third loose ball which followed, with Thelen finally dispatching to make the scoreline 2-0. With credit to Brookes, this second goal only spurred them on as they looked for a way into the game. As the game stretched in the final 15 minutes, both teams had good chances, with both Urwin and Eghleilib unlucky, forcing the keeper into a great save from a central free-kick and hitting the woodwork respectively. Keeper Sean Gleeson was made to work for his clean sheet, producing a smart reflex save and commanding his box throughout the periods of pressure.
The win takes the Blues to four competitive wins from four, the ideal preparation for the upcoming game against Cambridge and the Brookes Varsity.