Report - Oxford City 0-1 Havant & Waterlooville
Hawks Go Top
Oxford City were unable to keep their fine run of results going as they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Havant & Waterlooville in a match of very few clear cut chances.
Jason Prior scored the only goal of the game for the Hawks right on the stroke of half time to consign the Hoops to their first defeat in a month.
Mark Jones made three changes to the side that progressed into the Oxfordshire Senior Cup Final on Tuesday as Eddie Jones and Reece Fleet were restored to the side after being rested for this game, while Rob Sinclair returned from an injury that had kept him out of the side for a couple of weeks. Jones replaced Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was recalled by parent club Portsmouth on Friday, at right wing back. He joined a defence also including Freddie Grant at left wing back and Frankie Musonda, Connor Stevens and Joe Oastler in the centre, with Craig King in goal. Fleet and Sinclair both started in the centre of midfield, along with captain Godfrey Poku, while Sam Nombe and Matt Paterson partnered each other up front.
King was called into action as early as the fourth minute as Bradley Tarbuck was able to shoot powerfully on the turn from the edge of the box following a corner, the City stopper getting down well to push the effort out wide.
Twelve minutes in, City were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous area after Fleet was brought down on the edge of the box by Ed Harris, who was booked for his efforts. Oastler tried to curl the set piece around the wall, however it flicked off a defender for a corner which eventually came to nothing.
The game then settled down with both sides sharing possession in the middle of the field and nothing really being created. This was halted in the 28th minute when Jordan Rose brought ex-Hawk Poku down on the edge of the box. City’s other ex-Hawk Paterson stepped up this time, however his effort deflected off of the wall before falling easily to Ryan Young.
The Hawks went straight up the other end and found themselves with an almost identical chance after Oastler fouled Tubbs, the City man earning a yellow card. February’s National League South player of the month, Rory Williams took the set piece, however, like the two City free-kicks previous, he could not beat the wall to force King into a save.
The breakthrough came in first half stoppage time. The visitors earned a string of corners after City failed to clear properly, the last was driven in low to Jason Prior who was able to turn before finishing past King through a sea of bodies.
With the goal coming so late, there was barely time to get the game going again, and City went in 1-0 down at the break.
City’s second half nearly started perfectly. Fleet got in down the right after 48 minutes, his drive across goal found Paterson, who laid off to Nombe in space on the penalty spot to shoot, the in-form striker’s goal bound effort was brilliantly blocked by Rose to keep his side ahead.
As time wore on, Mark Jones made a couple of attacking changes to his side in search of an equaliser: Zac McEachran and Forde coming on to replace Sinclair and Stevens.
It was the visitors who were closest to grabbing the next goal, just three minutes from time, after Prior was played through on goal, however King was out early to narrow the angle and made a great save from the Hawks’ top scorer’s attempted chip, before diving on top of the rebound.
Just as all looked lost, the Hoops were able to carve out one final effort in the dying seconds. They were awarded a free kick on the right hand edge of the box, Fleet passed to Paterson on the edge of the box who was unable to get his shot on target.
Following this defeat, the Hoops have to wait another week before they are next in action, away at 8th placed Welling United at Park View Road, 3pm kick-off on Saturday 17th March
Oxford City: King, Jones, Stevens (Forde 80), Poku (c), Musonda, Oastler, Nombe, Fleet, Paterson, Sinclair (McEachran 66), Grant.
Unused: Fofana, Godwin-Malife