Report - Oxford City 0-0 Thame United (4-2 pens)
City through in the Oxfordshire Senior Cup
After a long period without a game, City made an inauspicious return to action as they scraped a shootout victory against Thame United in the Quarter Finals of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup.
City began the game brightly despite the shroud of drizzle hanging over Court Place Farm and could have taken the lead in the 3rd minute, Jefferson Louis out-jumping the goalkeeper when an errant corner was played back into the box. The Thame defence were fortunate to clear the header off of the line, and will have been equally grateful to see Reece Fleet's follow-up mis-hit. Godfrey Poku also came close to breaking the deadlock later in the otherwise quiet half - his venomous volley from the edge of the area smartly tipped over the bar.
Despite the worsening conditions, the second half proved more eventful than the first. Mike Fondop 's audacious attempt at an overhead kick in the 55th minute went close, but saw a free kick given in favour of the visitors. Thame's first meaningful attack of the game arrived in the 64th minute; a quick break down the left forcing debutant 'keeper Jake Pritchard to make a good save low to his left.
City began to shuffle their deck as the half wore on – Fondop making way for Stephane Ngamvoulou and Sammy Khawaja replacing the booked Scott Davies.
Both players went on to have an enormous impact on the closing stages of the game. With 7 minutes of normal time remaining, Ngamvoulou produced an excellent turn to earn himself a yard of space and delivered a cross which was fumbled badly by the Thame goalkeeper. Unfortunately for the Hoops, Tommy Winters was just unable to convert at the far post. Minutes later it was Ngamvoulou who again stepped up the the plate, unleashing a dipping long shot which narrowly cleared the bar.
City looked as though they had sealed a late victory in the early stages of stoppage time when the lively Khawaja found himself through on goal. The youngster kept his cool to slot past the onrushing keeper only to be denied by a spectacular sliding clearance from a backtracking defender as the shot held up in the muddy goalmouth.
As the game rolled into extra time the conditions really began to take their toll with the ball barely rolling in many central areas of the pitch and this understandably reduced the quality of the play. Fittingly the two major chances of this period both came from set pieces. Pritchard was called into action late in the first period as a Thame free kick found a free head in the City box, the young 'keeper doing well to palm the ball over the bar. His debut clean sheet did require a little luck, however, as Thame's Andy Gledhill missed what was, for all intents and purposes, an open goal in the final minute of extra time.
All of this could only mean one thing – the dreaded penalty shootout. With Mark Jones briefly turning groundsman to clear the goalmouth of some standing water, the shootout got underway. With Thame blazing one spot kick over and Pritchard producing an excellent save to stop another, City's penalty takers (Louis, Grant, Ngathe & Ngamvoulou) were all able to calmly convert to send the Blues into the next round.
Oxford City: Pritchard, Ngathe, Grant, Poku, Henderson, Niate, Fondop (Ngamvoulou), Fleet, Louis, Davies (Khawaja), Winters (Chamberlain).
Subs not Used: Kemp, Tutton