Report - Oxford City 0-1 Chippenham Town
An Easter Nightmare for The Hoops
Oxford City were left empty handed in their Easter Monday fixture as Chippenham Town ran out 1-0 winners at Marsh Lane thanks to Jake Jackson’s 29th minute winner. The Bluebirds victory moved them within 3 points of mathematical safety, while City sit a further six points further back from this landmark, albeit with 2 games in hand over this afternoon’s visitors.
Mark Jones was forced into one change to his line-up from Friday’s abandoned game at Braintree Town as Sam Nombe was made unavailable by parent club MK Dons due to a youth semi-final on Tuesday. He was replaced by Zac McEachran, who lined up in an attacking role alongside Matt Paterson. Elsewhere, Craig King retained his position between the sticks, protected by a back three of Connor Stevens, captain Joe Oastler, and Frankie Musonda; with Eddie Jones and Freddie Grant operating as wing-backs. Reece Fleet and Mamadou Fofana lined up in the central midfield, sitting just behind Rob Sinclair who started in a more advanced role. There was one major boost for the City boss as he was able to name Lee Henderson on the bench, his first involvement with the first team squad since the 11th November.
It was the visitors that threatened their opponents' goal first, on four minutes, as Karnell Chambers picked up a loose ball just outside the box, his shot at goal deflecting off Stevens and behind for a corner, which ultimately came to nothing.
The Hoops went straight up the other end almost immediately and were awarded a sixth minute free-kick just outside the box. The delivery was aimed towards the head of Grant, who was unmarked, however he was unable to rise quite high enough to get contact and the ball sailed out for a goal-kick.
Six minutes later, City were able to form a break at the Bluebirds’ goal. McEachran picked up the ball in a central position, before sending a heavy touch to an unmarked Paterson who regained possession in a wide position before shooting into Jared Thompson’s arms.
The 13th minute saw the referee’s book into action for the first time. Dean Evans was adjudged to have left a foot in on Grant in a wide position, earning the first yellow card of the game.
The spell of early action was following by a quiet 15 minutes, which was eventually broken in the 29th minute by the first, and only, goal of the game. The Bluebirds put pressure on the City box, the Hoops’ defence failing to fully clear a number of times. The ball eventually fell to Jake Jackson in space in the centre of the park 30 yards from goal, the frontman taking a touch before rifling past the helpless King in the City goal.
The Hoops looked for an immediate reaction and had a couple of efforts within a couple of minutes of the goal. Grant had the first on 31 minutes as he cut onto his right foot from out wide. His initial shot was blocked; however a loose ball fell into the box between Paterson and Thompson, the Chippenham stopper getting to it just before the City striker.
One minute later, Sinclair was able to play a pass to McEachran on the edge of the box and, with his back to goal tried to turn his defender, eventually doing so after a number of efforts however his eventual effort was weak and easy for Thompson.
The visitors were able to see the rest of the half out and go into the break one goal up.
The second period started with the first City name ending up in the book. After a set piece that went through to Thompson, the Chippenham ‘keeper tried to clear the ball quickly and struck Oastler, who was adjudged to have deliberately obstructed the stopper and was shown a yellow card.
Following a quiet 15 minutes, Mark Jones opted to make his first substitution in an attempt to salvage something from the game. He chose to go with a completely different style of player in the attacking role as he withdrew top scorer Matt Paterson, replaced by Ezra Forde, who immediately showed his energy by closing down a number of loose balls quickly.
Thompson was called into his first save of the half on 63 minutes as Fofana was given space around 35 yards out, his long-range effort was initially heading wide, however a heavy deflection sent it straight into the arms of the goalkeeper.
Jones’ second change came on 70 minutes as he replaced Freddie Grant with Udoka Godwin-Malife, the young defender brought on to provide a different challenge to the visitors’ in the closing 20 minutes.
City’s best chance of the game came on 77 minutes. A brilliant move ended as Eddie Jones was able to clip a ball over to McEachran into the box, the midfielder forcing Thompson to save with his feet for a corner, which eventually came to nothing.
The City management played their last card just two minutes as Mamadou Fofana was replaced by exciting midfielder Kavan Cotter.
The Hoops had another chance at grabbing an equaliser in the 86th minute. A cross from Jones was not cleared fully, the ball played back to Forde who was able to shoot powerfully, however a last ditch defensive challenge saw the ball deflected for a corner. The miss has to go down as a chance that Paterson would, of course, have scored.
The four added minutes were mainly dominated by players going into the referee’s book, Chambers was shown a yellow card after he kicked the ball away following an offside call. It was a different colour for Jones as he was given his marching orders in the final minute after he brought down Chambers who was clear through on goal just outside the area, the referee given no other option than to send the wing-back off.
City are next in action on Saturday as they welcome Eastbourne to Marsh Lane in the National League South, the game now holding more importance for City who look to pick up valuable points in their bid to guarantee safety in the division. Kick-off is at 3pm.
Oxford City: King, Jones (S/O 90+4), Stevens, Fofana (Cotter 77), Musonda, Oastler, McEachran, Fleet, Paterson (Forde 59), Sinclair, Grant (Godwin-Malife 70).