BAM! ZAP! POW! KASSAM! And to a glorious winter’s day in Oxfordshire for the clash of the Vikings and the U’s.
Like many third tier teams Oxford’s new build stadium has been confined to the outer reaches of its historic town, and although the chances of running into a privately educated punt are slim the river is still nearby.
Which is how I decided to make the journey up. The Thames Path connects Radley and makes for a nice Saturday morning stroll if you’re that way inclined. Or you could take the bus and not turn up to the stadium coated in mud – hindsight is a wonderful thing.
But to the game – and what a game it was. The first half was littered with chances at either end, with Ian Lawlor pulling off a first class save between the sticks and Rovers showing sparks of real class.
And in the second half those sparks came to fruition. Rovers had a physicality that I’d seldom seen before and really bossed the play, moving the ball with confidence and giving the U’s a real workout.
On 80 minutes it looked like heartbreak for Rovers when Oxford were awarded a controversial penalty, but the resulting save merely delayed the inevitable, and on 96 minutes a bumbling shot found the back of the net sending the Vikings home empty handed.
It was a crushing lesson, but an important one – for all the wonderful football, sometimes you just need to take a punt.
by Jack Peat