Report - Dartford 7-1 Oxford City
Hoops left full of holes as Darts arrow to victory
By Ryan Bratley
Oxford City endured a difficult day on the road on Saturday afternoon as they lost 7-1 to unbeaten Dartford at Princes Park, finishing the game with 9 men as Freddie Grant saw red and Mo Fofana was stretchered off.
Mark Jones labelled the defeat as 'unacceptable', highlighting Grant's sending off and the tally of five goals conceded from set pieces as particularly disappointing details amongst a litany of defensive failures.
Buoyed by two consecutive victories, the boss once again named an unchanged side with Craig Hill working behind a defense comprising of Godfrey Poku, Freddie Grant, captain Lee Henderson and Joe Oastler. Eddie Jones, David Pearce, Reece Fleet, Horatio Hirst and Zac McEachran all operated in midfield with Matt Paterson up front.
The Hoops were able to enjoy the first few minutes of the game with McEachran once again looking lively on the ball, working his way to the edge of the area but seeing his shot bravely blocked by Tom Bonner.
Their first lapse in concentration was, however, moments away. A 9th minute corner saw Richard Sho-Silva work free of his man, flying unchallenged across the 6 yard box to glance a near post corner past Hill.
A goal down to an undeniably good finish and under pressure from a lively attack, The Hoops set about causing trouble for themselves as they gave away possession in their own half. Fortunately, Oastler was able to recover and block the resulting effort to keep the game in the balance.
The Darts did, however, double their lead in the 15th minute. Lyle Delle-Verde's effort looked harmless enough as it left his foot but a sizeable deflection off of an unfortunate Poku saw it nestle neatly in Hill's bottom right hand corner.
Oastler found his way into the book in the 18th minute for a poor challenge on the edge of the area for which the home crowd would much rather had seen him given his marching orders. Hill did nothing to calm them down three minutes later as he rushed out of his area to take control of a long ball ahead of Warren Mufula and instead scythed the player down. Fortunately, the Dartford forward's touch had already taken him towards the corner flag and the 'keeper was spared an early bath.
The resulting free kicks amounted to nothing but it was a different story the next time Dartford won a corner; Alfie Pavey the man to take a turn heading home in the 23rd minute.
Hill did well to keep Pavey out at his near post after The Hoops lost possession in their own half but The Darts were still able to make it 4-0 right on the half hour mark: Lee Noble's left wing cross sneaking into the top corner.
On the rare occasions that City made forays into the opposing half they were able to look reasonably threatening. McEachran capitalised on a lapse in concentration to win the ball down the right hand side and drove into the box, unleashing a fierce shot which he was unfortunate to see blocked at close range.
Despite the fleeting positives, all reasonable hopes of getting back into the game were dashed 5 minutes before half time as a rash, two-footed lunge from Grant was justifiably met with a red card. The sending off prompted a tactical change from Jones as Hirst was sacrificed to allow the introduction of Cristian Navarro.
McEachran was able to buoy the travelling fans one more time before the break, working his way to the byline and taking the time to beat his man repeatedly before chipping a ball to the far post which was cleared comfortably.
It’s likely that the half time team talk will have included talk of keeping it tight for the first ten minutes, playing as though it were still 0-0 and trying to win the half.
Warren Mufula scored his first of the game in the 50th minute. From a corner.
The indignity of conceding yet again seemed to spur The Hoops into life and they pulled one back almost immediately. A cross into the Dartford box looked as though it has been dealt with but pressure from Pearce saw him win possession deep inside the box. A smart ball to Paterson allowed the striker to turn his man and caress the ball beyond Deren Ibrahim to put his side on the board.
Despite the goal, nobody in blue and white was under any illusions as to where the game was headed. Normal service was resumed in the 61st minute as Dartford won a corner – tantamount to being awarded a goal at this point – and Mufula converted once again, this time via a heavy deflection off of Fofana. He could have completed his hattrick just two minutes later but blazed over from 12 yards.
With 25 minutes left to play, Mark Jones made his final substitution as captain Lee Henderson was replaced by Guri Demuria.
The rout was completed in the 69th minute as Mufula completed his hattrick. Wriggling his way into the box he appeared to be fouled by Navarro but opted to ride the challenge and his low shot beat Hill with a little help from Oastler.
As if the day had not already been bad enough, City were dealt a final blow as Fofana was stretchered off with an injury to his left knee.
The final 15 minutes saw Dartford take their foot off the gas somewhat, although Mark Onyemah twice went close – shooting narrowly wide from range before blazing over from inside the box.
Speaking after the game, Mark Jones offered a frank appraisal of his side's performance:
“You quite simply can't defend how we did today. We can talk all we want about playing football and playing an expansive game which on some occasions is what we want to try and do but you've also got to do the basics. We got every single little detail wrong today.”
“I hope the players are hurting as much as I am. We've told the players exactly what we think in [the dressing room] and we haven't skirted around the edges with it. A lot of people put a lot of effort into running Oxford City Football Club and providing National league South level football and they've been badly let down today.”
The full interview can be seen here
Oxford City: Hill, Poku, Grant (S/O 40), Jones, Henderson (Demuria 67), Oastler, McEachran, Fleet, Paterson, Hirst (Navarro 42), Pearce (Fofana 45)
Subs not used: Ngathe, Forde