Report - Chippenham Town 3-2 Oxford City
Wiltshire woe for The Hoops
Zac McEachran's stunning free kick and a Matt Paterson penalty weren't enough to give City victory as Chippenham Town ran out 3-2 winners in an entertaining game at Hardenhuish Park.
Lee Henderson had a chance to level the game in stoppage time but was denied by an excellent reflex save from Jared Thompson.
Mark Jones named an unchanged starting eleven, with Oxford United loanee Jack Stevens lining up in goal while Eddie Jones and Dave Pearce continued as wingbacks, supporting a central three of Joe Oastler, Cristian Navarro and Henderson. Godfrey Poku, Zac McEachran, Reece Fleet and Rob Sinclair operated in midfield behind striker Matt Paterson.
Chippenham got off to an excellent start, taking the lead in the 7th minute as Henderson suffered the misfortune of diverting a cross into his own net.
The Hoops' only had to wait three minutes for a chance to respond. Zac McEachran took charge of a free kick just outside the area and, having shaped up to cross the ball, instead shot for the near post. The rooted goalkeeper could only watch as the young midfielder’s effort curled into the very top corner, rightly sending the travelling fans into raptures.
Unfortunately, a lapse in concentration from the City defence saw the Bluebirds retake the lead in the 18th minute. A long throw into the area was allowed to bounce and James Guthrie was on hand at the far post to smash the loose ball past Stevens.
Chippenham almost found the back of the net from a free kick of their own, Andy Sandell opting for power over precision and blasting his shot narrowly over.
The oppressive heat seemed to drain the life out of the later stages of the half, but a quick drinks break spurred City into one last attack before half time. A one-two between Paterson and Fleet saw the latter burst into the box; a chip to the back post didn't yield a solid effort on goal but Poku capitalised on a half clearance to smash a shot at goal. Brave defending saw the midfielder's shot deflected behind for a corner, which came to nothing?
The second half got off to a more promising start for City as Paterson got onto a ball down the right wing, beating his man on his way into the box. His cutback was well blocked by the hosts' defence and Fleet's ball back into the box saw the assistant referee's flag raised for an offside
This missed opportunity led to a good spell of pressure from the hosts. A fast break down the right saw Poku left behind and Stevens was forced into a good save low to his right. Poku was then the man to clear a dangerous low ball back into the box. It was a different story just a minute later as a similar attack saw the ball played across the face of goal for Sandell to tap in at the back post.
It could have been 4-1 in the 64th minute when another incisive move put City on the back foot. With two attackers taking on a single defender, Stevens was once again forced into a fine save down to his right. The resulting corner was cleared to McEachran who carried the ball the length of the pitch, eventually squirting a ball into the path of Poku who was promptly brought down in the area. The referee showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot, Paterson stepping up to confidently thump the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
The goal gave The Hoops a lifeline but their difficulty crafting clear-cut chances from open play continued. Pearce went close with a flying volley from range in the 86th minute but it was Henderson who came closest in stoppage time. The skipper, essentially playing as a striker for the final few moments, picked up a loose ball in the area and struck it hard, forcing an excellent save from Thompson as the 'keeper got two strong hands to push his effort over the bar.
Oxford City: Stevens, Jones, Pearce, Navarro, Henderson, Oastler, Poku, Fleet (Hirst 75), Paterson, McEachran, Sinclair.
Subs not used: Ngathe, Tutton, Bennett.