A bad facial injury to goalkeeper Fraser Nicholls marred an otherwise satisfying 4-2 win to Cambridge in their opening pre-season game against Otumoetai.
Nicholls, one of the mainstays of last year’s WaiBOP Premiership title-winning side, damaged an eye socket in a collision, minutes into the match at John Kerkhof Park on Saturday (February 17).
He was taken to Waikato Hospital for treatment while midfielder Mason Woodall became an emergency replacement between the goalposts.
In sticky heat, both teams worked hard and played well in patches.
Cambridge took the lead through English newcomer Wayne Teague, who looked sharp throughout and combined well with Jamie Woodlock, a former Cambridge junior who is back at the club.
Otumoetai almost levelled with a near post shot that was tipped to safety by Woodall.
The visitors found the net with a 30-metre speculator and then went ahead with a neatly-taken move that caught the Reds defence square.
Cambridge then began their best spell of the game, swiftly moving the ball from the back and through the midfield, with Jamie Woodlock and Teague finding gaps to run into.
On one such run, Woodlock was tripped on the edge of the area and referee Peter Caffell awarded the penalty.
Usual penalty taker and captain Patrick Woodlock deferred to his younger brother who smartly put away the spot kick to level the scores at 2-2.
In the final 30 minutes, Cambridge gradually exerted their authority on the game and Teague scored his second from close before Woodlock added another to wrap up the game 4-2.
- Next Saturday (February 24), the Reds host Te Awamutu in a pre-season friendly at John Kerkhof Park. Kick off is 2.45pm and will be preceded by a 12.30pm match between the two club’s reserves sides.
Match photo gallery
Images courtesy of Cambridge FC official photographer Louis Roberts.