Report - Maidstone United 1-0 Oxford City
City's Trophy run ends against the Stones
By Patrick Lock
A solitary first half strike from Jack Richards helped Maidstone United on their way through to the Third Round of the FA Trophy, marking the end of Oxford City’s run through from the Final Qualifying Round.
It was a match in which neither keeper was particularly tested too much, however both sides will feel aggrieved not to have been awarded a first half penalty.
Mark Jones’ squad was boosted by the return of captain Joe Oastler, who slotted straight back in at centre-back following his four-match suspension; and Zac McEachran, who had regained fitness to take up a position on the bench. Oastler was joined by Udoka Godwin-Malife in the central defensive positions, guarding goalkeeper Craig King whose defence was completed by full-backs Eddie Jones and Ben Jefford.
Further up the field, there was a first start for Ben Barrett in a central midfield that also contained Reece Fleet and Josh Ashby, while the attacking options were fronted by wingers Craig Fasanmade and Bobson Bawling, providing support to lone striker Kabongo Tshimanga.
The first half took a while to ignite, however it was the hosts who took control of the early key moments. The first real sight of goal came in the 8th minute as Jack Richards managed to get in down City’s right-hand flank and his shot from a wide angle just beat the far post.
The Hoops created their first chance on the quarter hour as Barrett and Fasanmade linked up well down the right, the latter crossing to find former, who could only slice a shot to Tshimanga, whose effort was then well blocked by Will De Havilland.
A big shout for a penalty followed ten minutes later from the hosts. Richards had burst into the box and went down following a challenge from Jones, however referee Chris Pollard remained unmoved. Right on the half hour mark, the hosts had another chance as a free kick was delivered to the far post where Rob Swaine wasn’t able to find the target with his header.
The Hoops were forced into an early change on 35 minutes, Tom Carter replacing Ben Jefford who felt the full force of the advertising boards in the process of winning his side a corner. The City defender went off to hospital with a suspected broken foot, we will provide any updates as soon as we know anything.
While that was all going on, the hosts took the lead. Ollie Muldoon switched play with a long ball over to the right flank where Jack Paxman was in space, he crossed into Richards who had the simple task of finishing past the helpless King.
City weren’t to sit back for the remaining ten minutes of the half, pushing forwards to try and get back onto level terms, with several chances in the last few minutes of the half.
On 43 minutes, a long ball over the top found Tshimanga behind the Maidstone defence, as he took the ball into the box, Rob Swaine had tracked back and seemed to bundle the striker over in the box, however the huge appeals from the City players were waved away by Pollard.
In stoppage time, the Hoops were awarded a dangerous set-piece as De Havilland fouled Tshimanga who looked to race into the box – the Maidstone defender was booked for his efforts. The free-kick was played to Fleet, whose powerful strike was unable to beat the wall, with the half time whistle following as the ball was cleared.
Both sides had efforts just over bar in the opening ten minutes of the second period, Aryan Tajbakhsh’s half volley missing just two minutes in, before Ashby connected superbly on 55 minutes, his rasping shot having the keeper well beaten, but also the crossbar.
With half an hour to play, Mark Jones introduced Zac McEachran back into action following a lengthy layoff due to a knee injury – he replaced Ben Barrett.
Things didn’t look good for the City midfielder as, after just two minutes of the field, he ended up on the deck having felt a recurrence of the knee injury that had been keeping him out. After some treatment, he continued, and was able to finish the match.
It was McEachran who had a golden chance for the Hoops on 70 minutes, he combined with Tshimanga and saw himself through with Ethan Ross, however he couldn’t get power on his shot, which harmlessly rolled through to the Maidstone stopper.
Kunle Otudeko was Mark Jones’ final throw of the dice as he replaced Bobson Bawling on 78 minutes, and on 86 minutes was able to get a shot towards goal, the went harmlessly wide.
Ultimately, City may feel slightly hard done by with the result and may feel that they deserved a replay, but they were unable to really break down a stubborn Stones defence and were unable to test Ross.
Following a busy period, City have a free midweek for the first time in five weeks, with Mark Jones allowing the players the Tuesday off training. The Hoops return to league action on Saturday afternoon as they welcome Gloucester City to Marsh Lane, 3pm kick-off.
Oxford City: King, Jones, Jefford (Carter 35), Ashby, Godwin-Malife, Oastler, Fasanmade, Fleet, Tshimanga, Barrett (McEachran 59), Bawling (Otudeko 78).
Unused: Grantham, O’Donoghue
Attendance: 1,156 (31 away)