By Ryan Bratley
Oxford City recorded their second victory of the Easter Period, as a Kaiman Anderson goal in the 10th minute was enough to dispense of relegation-threatened Gosport Borough.
Happy with his side's performance against Chelmsford, manager Mark Jones named an unchanged side featuring a mixture of youth and experience. Lee Henderson, Jean Niate and Guri Demuria formed a back three ahead of goalkeeper Craig Hill with Godfrey Poku and Freddie Grant operating as wing-backs. Scott Davies and Reece Fleet sat in the centre of midfield, behind a front three of Ezra Forde, Kaiman Anderson and Jefferson Louis.
The Hoops started brightly as, in the 5th minute, Forde raced onto a long ball and teed up Poku. Despite being well place to shoot, the defender unselfishly squared to Louis whose low effort was pushed around the post by Nick Jordan. The resulting corner saw Henderson go close with a strong header from 12 yards.
5 minutes later, Davies produced a peach of a diagonal ball into the path of Grant on the left wing from where the wing-back earned himself the space for a shot. This initial effort was blocked but fell kindly to Anderson in the box where he made no mistake, finishing calmly into the bottom corner to notch his second goal for the club and the first since his debut.
With Gosport struggling to create any clear chances they found themselves relying on defensive errors to get a sight of goal, Henderson and Grant both to thank for strong blocks on the edge of Craig Hill's area.
City could have doubled their lead just before the half hour mark when Poku burst into the opposing half, finding Anderson on the edge of the area. The goalscorer produced a smart flick into the path of Forde who in turn picked out the feet of Louis 6 yards from goal. The experienced striker saw his shot blocked at point blank range by Nick Jordan and, having become tangled with the downed goalkeeper and a defender, was unable to reach the loose ball to tap home.
The latter stages of the half became increasingly scrappy as the Boro' defence began getting to grips with the pace and strength of City's forwards. The City defence, meanwhile, seemed largely untroubled with Hill yet to be tested.
The second half began with the two sides trading long shots. First, Grant went close as he cut inside from the left wing before unleashing a right footed drive which narrowly cleared the bar. Not to be outdone, Josh Carmichael hit a swerving effort which Hill did well to hold at the first attempt.
Just before the hour mark, Fleet and Poku combined to win possession on the right of midfield, the latter moving the ball onto Davies. The playmaker took the opportunity to stretch his legs, jinking past three defenders on his way to the edge of the area, only to see his low effort pass inches wide of the post.
With 15 minutes remaining, another series of incisive passes nearly saw City put the game to bed. Demuria came away from defence with the ball, finding Poku who came inside before rolling a neat ball into the path of Fleet on the edge of the area. The midfielder hit it early, driving his effort low and hard across goal and forcing Jordan into a fingertip save. The resulting corner almost saw substitute Wilson Carvalho directly from the set piece as his curling delivery was cleared off of the line by Tony Lee.
With only a few minutes left to salvage what would have been a vital point in their fight for survival, the hosts created their best chance of the game in the 82nd minute. A left wing free kick was delivered to the far post where Pat Suraci rose highest, glancing his header wide of Hill's goal.
With 4 minutes of stoppage time to be played, tempers began to fray and an off the ball incident in the City box saw a flurry of bookings for both sides. Despite this, the Hoops were able to hold firm and register back-to-back wins for the first time since the Christmas period.
Speaking after the game, Mark Jones reflected on a satisfying Easter weekend:
“Its been a good day for us today, we were worthy winners and the players showed a great attitude to produce that so soon after a tough game. Gosport had an extra day of recovery as well and I think if we were a little more clinical with our finishing things could have been a lot more comfortable for us.
Obviously after playing on Saturday and putting a lot of effort in we hoped that the boys were going to be OK physically. We went with the same team and towards the end there were a few tired legs out there today. Some of our play in the final third, particularly in the second half, was a bit tired – some of our shooting could have been better – but you can't fault the lads' effort.
It's difficult to pick out any individuals today, I thought the back three looked solid. Jean Niate's done very well the last 2 games having come back from injury and Lee Henderson has been impressive. I could probably go on and name every player and that's a positive because you need everybody to be contributing in order to pick up points at this level. Too often we've seen too many players having off days but if you look at the last two games you could go through the whole side giving everyone seven or more out of ten.
I'm pleased for Kaiman Anderson to have got his goal, he's been working tirelessly the last couple of games. He scored on his debut and has waited a long time for a second but he deserved it – he does a lot of running for the team. Also Jefferson Louis at 38 deserves a lot of credit for the way he kept going over the two games.
After the game against Hampton there was a lot of disappointment round the place and if you had said that we would go and beat Chelmsford by 2 goals then beat Gosport two days later we would have snapped your hands off.”
Oxford City: Hill, Poku, Grant (Peake-Pijnen 65), Demuria, Henderson, Niate, Fleet, Davies, Louis, Anderson, Forde (Carvalho 70)
Subs not used: Daramola, Furlong