Report - Oxford City 1-0 Bognor Regis Town
Single goal sees City through to the First Round Proper
Oxford City produced an excellent all-round display to progress into the First Round Proper of the FA Cup, dispatching a lively Bognor Regis Town outfit 1-0.
Matt Paterson gave The Hoops the lead in the first half, missing the chance to double the lead from the spot on the stroke of half time. The defence then came under significant pressure in the closing stages of the game and had Reece Fleet to thank for a vital goal-line clearance at the death.
Mark Jones made significant changes ahead of the game, implementing a more basic 4-4-2 formation and slightly more direct playstyle. Jack Stevens started in goal with Eddie Jones filling in at right back for the unavailable Miles Welch-Hayes and Cristian Navarro replacing Freddie Grant on the left side of defence. Lee Henderson returned at centre half, re-taking the captain's armband, alongside Joe Oastler. Godfrey Poku and Reece Fleet took to the centre of midfield with Rob Sinclair and Dave Pearce out wide. Finally Ezra Forde, whose backheeled finish sunk Leiston in the previous round made his second consecutive start in the cup to partner Matt Paterson up front.
The Rocks started brightly and it took an excellent saving tackle from Jones to stop a dangerous attack in the 6th minute. Shortly after, a cross from the left just evaded the head of Sinclair with a second ball into the box failing to find Paterson.
The Hoops survived a huge scare in the 19th minute as Stevens spilled a cross under heavy pressure from an opponent. The loose ball fell to Jimmy Muitt who blazed over the bar from 12 yards. At the other end, Forde raced clear of the defence but saw his low effort saved by Dan Lincoln. Whilst the 'keeper did spill the ball, the sheer pace of the attack meant that no City player was in the box to tuck it away.
A quick throw-in left the Rocks' defence in disarray, finding Paterson in the box with his back to goal. The prolific striker produced a neat flick to find Forde, receiving the ball back before teeing up Poku for a shot from 12 yards. The resulting shot was unfortunately mishit, failing to test the 'keeper.
Both sides also tried their luck from range, Ollie Pearce drawing a comfortable save from Stevens before Fleet volleyed wide.
City's breakthrough finally came in the 32nd minute. Forde's relentless harrying of the defence saw him combine with Pearce to win the ball deep in enemy territory. Pearce's low cross into the box was perfectly placed for Paterson whose flying volley found the top corner of the net.
Bognor looked to respond immediately as Muitt charged clear down the right. With Ben Swallow making a smart run to the far post Muitt seemed caught in two minds, eventually playing a ball ahead of his teammate and wide of the far post.
With the half seemingly over, Sinclair went on a run from the half way line which saw him beat two men before sliding a ball into the path of Paterson. The goalscorer looked set to pull the trigger but was instead brought down for a penalty. The striker stepped up to take the penalty himself, going low to the right but clipping the outside of the post as he shot wide.
The half time whistle signalled the end of an enticing 45 minutes of football, albeit one which left The Hoops disappointed to not be two goals up.
The second half began with City once again on the front foot, pressuring the visiting defence into potentially costly errors. Sinclair capitalised on a poor clearance to get a sight of goal, beating the 'keeper but not the defender on the line. The loose ball fell to Paterson who drew an exceptional double save from Lincoln to keep his side within a goal of parity.
Muitt did well to beat Navarro down the right wing, cutting inside before setting his sights on Stevens' near post with an effort which ultimately struggled to find the side netting. Ibra Sekajja was the next to mount an attack, getting on the end of an excellent ball to play a pass across goal which Henderson was well placed to clear.
With 20 minutes remaining, The Hoops continued to press for a second goal. Paterson was set free down the right after Poku's excellent tackle in midfield. Forde was first to react to the resulting cross but received the ball at a difficult height, Pearce instead the man to take a snap shot at goal which passed narrowly wide of the top corner.
Mark Jones made his first and only change of the game in the 72nd minute with Zac McEachran replacing Ezra Forde.
The Rocks' task became significantly more difficult in the 77th minute as Calvin Davies picked up his second yellow card for a heavy challenge on Pearce. The numerical disadvantage did little to inhibit them however as they threw caution to the wind for the final few minutes of the game. Harvey White produced a fine touch to control a diagonal ball, feeding a pass into the path of substitute Alex Parsons who fired narrowly wide of the near post.
The Hoops, meanwhile, looked to exploit the inevitable gaps in the visiting defence. Sinclair burst clear down the right wing once again, crossing to the back post where Paterson was waiting to nod the ball back across goal. Pearce was the recipient, rising well to head goalwards but only finding the crossbar.
With five minutes of added time to be played The Rocks began to throw everything at the City goal, goalkeeper Lincoln coming up for a corner and Jack Pearce introducing the aerial presence of Jimmy Wild. Fleet was the ultimate hero of the hour, bringing order to the chaos of the resulting goalmouth scramble with a confident goalline clearance to keep the lead intact.
Victory sees Oxford City take their place in the draw for the First Round Proper, represented by ball number 68 in Monday night's draw which will be broadcast live on BBC2 from 7pm.
Oxford City: Stevens, Jones, Navarro, Poku, Henderson (c), Oastler, Sinclair, Fleet, Paterson, Forde (McEachran 73), Pearce.
Unused Subs: Grant, Hirst, Tutton.