Report - Oxford City 5-0 Cray Valley (PM)
City progress in the Cup
Oxford City booked their place in the next round of the Emirates FA Cup with a comfortable 5-0 win over Cray Valley Paper Mills.
The Hoops scarcely stepped out of second gear on their way to victory as goals from Kabby Tshimanga, Matt Paterson, and a Zac McEachran hattrick propelled them to victory over their Step 5 opponents.
Mark Jones's team selection constituted a clear statement as to how seriously he is taking the competition: a full strength eleven showing the utmost respect to the visitors. Craig King lined up in goal, protected by the centre half pairing of Udoka Godwin-Malife and returning captain Joe Oastler. Eddie Jones and Ben Jefford retained their places at right and left fullback respectively with Kyran Wiltshire and Zac McEachran ahead of them on the wings. Last weekend's stand-in captain Reece Fleet continued his partnership with Josh Ashby in the heart of midfield and the spine of the side was completed by strikers Kabby Tshimanga and Matt Paterson.
With persistent rain threatening to become a downpour at any moment, previous seasons would have seen many fans pondering the possibility of an abandonment. Fortunately, Marsh Lane's all-weather pitch allowed the game to go ahead with no such fear.
The Hoops made the most of the fast surface and carved out the game's first opportunity within two minutes of kickoff. The Cray Valley defence failed to deal with a cross directed towards Paterson, allowing Tshimanga to steal in at the back post and force a strong save from Andy Walker.
Having survived this early scare, the visitors made a conscious effort to tighten up at the back and did well to restrict the Hoops in the final third.
This, however, could not last long and the breakthrough came in the 14th minute. Tshimanga was the man to produce a little bit of FA Cup magic, finding plenty of space outside the box from which to unleash a fierce, dipping drive which beat the 'keeper all ends up.
A second followed within 2 minutes. The pace and power of McEachran left the defence struggling to see the wood from the trees as a slick one-two with Paterson saw the young midfielder ream through the backline to finish confidently.
The visitors looked decidedly dog-eared following the swift double blow, and things could have become even worse in the 24th minute as Danny Smith almost blasted a wayward Paterson strike into his own net.
Paterson went close with a somewhat unorthodox strike from a Jefford cross before finally adding his name to the scoresheet just ten minutes before the break. McEachran took the opportunity to return the favour from earlier, playing a lovely ball into the striker's path to set up a routine finish from inside the box.
With half time fast approaching, the Hoops were given a timely reminder of their own fallibility when Denzel Gayle looked to be clear of the defence. Fortunately, Jones was on hand to make up ground and execute a beautifully timed challenge to clear the danger.
The second half started very much like the first, albeit in even dingier conditions, with Paterson's goalbound effort somehow being scrambled over the bar by Walker.
Whilst City were clearly the game's dominant force, it was equally clear that Cray Valley weren't about to roll over and would take any opportunity to get back into the fold. Mark Jones made sure to keep his side looking fresh with a positive substitution as Carl Stewart replaced Kyran Wiltshire in the 61st minute.
The change seemed to inspire the Hoops as they added a fourth goal almost immediately. Paterson and McEachran once again linked up superbly, the former reclaiming the role of provider for the latter to double his personal tally with a bobbling shot under the diving 'keeper.
Two more changes followed, Craig Fasanmade replacing Matt Paterson and young defender Tom Carter coming on in place of Udoka Godwin-Malife.
Playing without pressure thanks to their comfortable lead, the Hoops went from strength to strength. Fasanmade came close to making an instant impact, rounding the keeper moments after being introduced but finding only the side netting from an awkward angle, but it was fitting that McEachran was the one to round off the scoring.
Undoubtedly City's Man of the Match, the tricky playmaker had been tearing the opposition to shreds with his intricate dribbling and positional awareness. With partner-in-crime Paterson no longer on the pitch, he made do with a ball down the right from Eddie Jones to slot home his third and final goal of the game.
Even Tshimanga's late penalty miss could do nothing to take the gloss off of City's most convincing competitive victory since their 5-0 win at Margate in late 2016 - a result which, incidentally, was swiftly followed by a shock FA Trophy defeat to South Park.
The Hoops will now await the draw for the Third Qualifying Round, with matches to be played the weekend of the 6th of October. Meanwhile, they face a short trip to Hemel Hempstead Town - a side whose FA Cup campaign got off to a similarly auspicious start with a 6-1 away victory against Bowers & Pitsea.
Oxford City: King, Jones, Jefford, Ashby, Godwin-Malife (Carter 73), Oastler (c), McEachran, Fleet, Paterson (Fasanmade 73), Tshimanga, Wiltshire (Stewart 61).
Unused Subs: Caro, Ruddick, Krasniqi.