Report - Oxford City 1-1 Bath City
City's Share The Spoils
Oxford City and Bath City shared the spoils on Saturday afternoon after they registered their third consecutive 1-1 draw in the National League South at Marsh Lane.
Matt Paterson scored from the spot with a quarter of an hour remaining, cancelling out Ross Stearn’s strike on the stroke of half time for the visitors.
Mark Jones made one change to the side that lost at East Thurrock last weekend as he was able to welcome back Rob Sinclair from injury, the midfielder replacing Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain. Sinclair slotted into a central midfield also including captain Godfrey Poku and Mo Fofana, with Zac McEachran and Dave Pearce as the wide men looking to link up with lone striker Matt Paterson. The defence was unchanged with Eddie Jones starting at right back, Freddie Grant at left back with Connor Stevens and Joe Oastler as the two central men, all protecting Craig King between the sticks.
The match took a while to get going and there was a quarter of an hour on the clock before the first chance for either side. It fell to City as Paterson did brilliantly to win the ball 30 yards from goal before slotting through to Sinclair. The midfielder then spread the play to the right where Pearce was waiting. He was able to cut onto his favoured left foot whilst driving into the box before shooting, however his shot ricocheted off of McEachran, who was trying to duck out of the way.
The two wingers nearly linked up brilliantly seven minutes later. McEachran found himself in possession down City’s left flank before swinging a cross in towards the far post looking for the head of Pearce, the left winger was unable to get his head to the ball before it swung out for a goal kick.
It was Bath’s turn to go close in the 41st minute. Stearn was played through on the right hand side of the box, and his shot on the angle beat the post after King closed down well.
Stearn went one better just four minutes later as he put the visitors into the lead. The ball was crossed into the box where Nat Jarvis was able to head down to the winger, who was waiting on the penalty spot, to thrash home powerfully to give the visitors the lead.
City had no time to respond in the first half as referee Marc Whaley brought a halt to the first period almost immediately after the restart. This ended a period where both sides failed to really test either keeper, with the exception of Stearn’s strike.
The second period started largely the same with both sides struggling to really get a sight on their opponent’s goal. Just short of the hour mark, the Romans were gifted a chance after McEachran gave the ball away cheaply. The ball was played through to Stearn whose shot was deflected behind for a corner, which came to nothing.
This prompted Mark Jones into his only two changes of the match with Fofana and Pearce being replaced by Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ezra Forde to inject some pace into City’s attacks.
Oxlade-Chamberlain made an immediate impact as he burst down the right wing and into the box. He was able to cut the ball back from the byline to Paterson, who was waiting just inside the box, however the frontman uncharacteristically blazed over the bar.
He was able to redeem himself just 10 minutes later from the penalty spot. Rob Sinclair was played through the middle and managed to wriggle his way into the box before he was felled by a defender, Marc Whaley wasting no time in pointing to the spot. City’s top scorer stepped up and cooly sent Luke Southwood the wrong way to register his 19th goal of the season in all competitions for the Hoops.
This seemed to inject a bit of energy into City in the last 10 minutes in their task to try and find a winner.
Just four minutes before the end, a cross from Oxlade-Chamberlain was headed to the edge of the box to McEachran, who was able to take a touch and drill a shot towards the bottom corner, however Southwood was able to get down well to smother the ball.
The last few minutes passed with little incident, and the referee’s whistle signalled the end of City’s three match losing streak, however with Poole Town’s win at Hemel Hempstead this afternoon, their gap on the relegation zone is reduced to five points, with the south coast side having two games in hand on the Hoops.
Oxford City return to action on Saturday afternoon as they make the trip to Canvey Island to face Concord Rangers in the National League South, 3pm kick-off.
Oxford City: King, Jones, Grant, Poku (c), Stevens, Oastler, McEachran, Fofana (Oxlade-Chamberlain 63), Paterson, Sinclair, Pearce (Forde 63).
Unused: Navarro, Peake-Pijnen, Khawaja.