Report - Oxford City 2-3 Poole Town
By Ryan Bratley
Oxford City failed to make the most of their possession as a clinical Poole Town outfit ran out 3-1 winners at Marsh Lane.
Mark Jones made three changes from the side which triumphed over Leiston in the cup, welcoming Reece Fleet and Freddie Grant back from suspensions and handing a debut to loan signing Miles Welch-Hayes. Jack Stevens lined up in goal, protected by a back four of Welch-Hayes, Joe Oastler, Cristian Navarro and Grant. Godfrey Poku, Rob Sinclair and Fleet operated in the center of midfield with Zac McEachran and Eddie Jones in wider positions, all supporting lone striker Matt Paterson.
The visitors got off to a nightmare start as Steve Devlin was forced off with an injury within a minute, Jez Bedford the man to replace him.
The Hoops, meanwhile, started strongly with Paterson heading Jones's cross narrowly over the bar in the 5th minute. They kept up the pressure with a string of corners, pinning Poole back in ther own half for the opening ten minutes.
City went close again with another header on the quarter hour mark. Extremely good work from Sinclair at the edge of the box saw the ball worked out wide to Welch-Hayes whose cross found Fleet. The midfielder, who has been among the goals for City all season, rose well but nodded his effort just wide of the far post.
The breakthrough finally came in the 20th minute when Paterson reacted fastest to hook home a loose ball following a corner.
Poole mustered their first shot on goal in the 25th minute, Shaun Cooper firing straight down the throat of Stevens from the edge of the area. City responded with more patient buildup, Sinclair's dribbling creating chaos on the edge of the area before his chip into the path of Paterson was gathered by Nick Hutchings.
The pace of the game dropped significantly for a period, but both sides were sparked back into life by a 43rd minute equaliser. A quick attack down the right saw Warren Bentley connect with a whipped cross, planting his header past Stevens to level the game.
Conceding sparked The Hoops back into life. Sinclair's burst down the left allowed the midfielder to play a low, hard ball across goal which Fleet connected with, striking the bar. The loose ball was recovered and worked back into the box, Fleet threading a ball ahead of Paterson which was gathered bravely by Hutchings.
The second half started very much like the first with Paterson heading narrowly wide for City. Fleet also lined up an effort from range, firing high and wide of the target.
A scrappy quarter of an hour was finally brought to an end by the first of many quick breaks on Poole's part. Half-hearted appeals for a 57th minute penalty were waved away by the referee but The Dolphins only had to wait another minute before taking the lead. An incisive move down the right left the defence scrambling to find their shape and, whilst Oastler did well to take the initial sting out of the attack, the resulting shot deflected off of Welch-Hayes and into the path of Bentley for a simple finish.
The goal spurred Mark Jones into a double chance, Freddie Grant and Eddie Jones making way for Ezra Forde and Dave Pearce.
Things only got worse for The Hoops, however, with Poole doubling their lead with a quarter of an hour remaining. Hutchings rose well to gather from a City free kick and the visitors were quick getting onto the front foot to create a 3-on-2 situation. The forwards made no mistakes, working the ball between themselves calmly for Bedford to fire home despite the best efforts of Sinclair on the line.
City made their final change in the 80th minute, Horatio Hirst entering the fray at the expense of Zac McEachran.
The substitution paid off with Hirst nodding the ball down to Forde, the young forward advancing on goal before firing a shot onto the post. The loose ball fell to Pearce who squared for Paterson to poke home.
The goal proved to be a mere consolation for City, providing an element of respectability to an extremely disappointing scoreline.
The result sees Poole climb to 18th, consigning The Hoops to the relegation zone. Next Saturday sees a return to FA Cup action, fellow league strugglers Bognor Regis Town the visitors in the 4th Qualifying Round.
Oxford City: Stevens 6, Welch-Hayes 6, Grant 5 (Forde 72, 7), Poku 6, Oastler 6, Navarro 5, Jones 6 (Pearce 72, 6) Fleet 7, Paterson 8, Sinclair 8, McEachran 6 (Hirst 80, 7).
Subs not used: Tutton
Poole: Hutchings 7, Lindsay 7, Moore 7, Spetch 7, Whiskin 7, Petteter 7, Dickson 6 (Neale 40, 7), Devlin n/a (Bedford 04, 8) Bentley 9 (Gillespie 82, 6), Cooper 7, Harfield 7.
Subs not used: Balmer, Lee