Report - Oxford City 0-0 Hampton & Richmond Borough
City and Beavers Share the Spoils
Oxford City extended their unbeaten league run to seven games, sharing a goalless draw with Hampton & Richmond Borough on Saturday afternoon. They were left frustrated by a spectacular late save from Hampton stopper Sam Howes who protected his side’s unbeaten record, but they were unable to keep their eight-match winning run going at Marsh Lane.
City boss Mark Jones was handed a boost ahead of the game as Freddie Grant and Rob Sinclair both recovered from knocks picked up at Notts County and St Albans City respectively. Lee Henderson and Justin Bennett remain sidelined, both with long term injuries.
The two returnees were both named in the starting eleven, Sinclair retaining his spot in the centre of midfield along with captain Godfrey Poku, and Mo Fofana; whilst Grant reclaimed his left back position, lining up in the back four along with right back Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain and centre-halves Cristian Navarro and Joe Oastler. Elsewhere, Zac McEachran and Dave Pearce started as the two wide men looking to link up with lone striker Matt Paterson, whilst Jack Stevens retained his position between the sticks.
The game started very evenly with both sides earning early possession and looking evenly matched. On six minutes, the ball was played through the Beavers defence into the path of the onrushing Zac McEachran. The ball looked to be rolling through to ‘keeper Howes, and with McEachran bearing down quickly, he took a risk and dived on the ball early. It looked initially that he handled the ball before it reached the box, however referee Alex Blake ruled in favour of Howes and let play continue.
The Hampton stopper was involved for all the right reasons just five minutes later. Rob Sinclair was set down the right and, after cutting in on the edge of the box, was able to find Matt Paterson on the edge of the area unmarked. City’s top scorer took on the effort first time, requiring an excellent save from Howes down to his right to push the ball behind for a corner.
Following this, the game quietened down and chances were at a premium. The same couldn’t be said for booking with Alex Blake showing four yellow cards before the break. Joe Oastler was the first recipient after he brought his man down on the halfway line, before Freddie Grant joined him in the book on 28 minutes after going in hard in a challenge.
Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain became the third name in the book as he committed a foul on the edge of the box, which provided Hampton with an excellent chance from around 20 yards. Max Kretzschmar stepped up and struck his effort under the wall and forced City stopper Jack Stevens into a fine save to push the ball wide.
City had one final chance just before the break from a free kick of their own. Poku was pulled back by Christian Jolley about 20 yards out, the Hampton man becoming the fourth man in the book. Grant took the free kick short to McEachran who immediately played to Rob Sinclair who had a clear sight of goal. However, just as he lifted the ball over the keeper, debutant Justin Amaluzor slid in and managed to deflect the ball away, denying what looked to be a certain goal. Hampton & Richmond started the second half with all guns blazing and forced another save from Stevens in the opening seconds of the half. Kretzschmar was able to link up with Charlie Wassmer in the City half and the Hoops stopper was able to get down well to save.
Zac McEachran became the fourth City name in the referee’s book on 56 minutes as he was adjudged to have fouled Charlie Wassmer on the edge of the Hampton penalty area. The City midfielder weaved in and out of a few challenges, and what looked to be an innocent collision between the two players was punished by the referee who brandished the yellow card.
Shortly after, Mark Jones made his only change of the match, as he replaced Dave Pearce with Reece Fleet.
Five minutes later, City were presented with the chance of the game. McEachran, again getting in down the right, crossed the ball, which deflected off the first man and played it into the unmarked Matt Paterson, whose shot past the keeper struck the woodwork to keep the scores level.
Just as the game was starting to fizzle out and it looked like the teams were to share a goalless draw, the Hoops were gifted one final golden opportunity to snatch all three points.
The lively Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain broke with pace down the right. He managed to get past his man right in the corner, and drove a dangerous ball across goal onto the edge of the six yard box. With no City men around and not much danger surrounding the ball, Christian Wassmer’s attempted clearance instead deflected the ball towards his own goal. Sam Howes, despite going the other way, desperately changed direction and somehow got a hand to the ball to push it onto his bar, sparing the blushes of his central defender.
The full time whistle followed shortly, marking the end of Hampton’s winning run, whilst extending City’s unbeaten run. Thanks to a late equaliser in the match between Bognor Regis Town and Poole Town, The Hoops remain one point above the relegation zone heading into the festive double-header, where they face Gloucester City, who currently sit just one place and one point above The Hoops.
Oxford City: Stevens, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Grant, Poku ©, Navarro, Oastler, McEachran, Fofana, Paterson, Pearce (Fleet 65)
Unused Subs: Jones, Forde, Khawaja, Godwin-Malife.