Report - Oxford City 2-1 Eastbourne Borough
City Edge The Sports
Oxford City recorded a vital win in their quest to secure survival in the National League South as they ran out 2-1 winners at home to Eastbourne Borough on Saturday afternoon.
Two quick-fire goals at the start of the first half – an own-goal and a Matt Paterson penalty – set City on their way, however Yemi Odubade’s 86th minute strike set up a nervy ending for the Hoops.
Following Monday’s loss at home to Chippenham Town, Mark Jones opted for a change of shape heading into the match, lining up in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation this afternoon instead of the 3-5-2 he has preferred over the last few weeks. This lead to there being one change to the lineup as Connor Stevens was replaced by the returning Sam Nombe who returned to his position up front, lining up alongside Matt Paterson. Zac McEachran dropped back into a winger position, partnering Rob Sinclair, while Reece Fleet and Mo Fofana started as the central midfield pairing. The defence was made up of Eddie Jones at right-back and Freddie Grant at left-back, while Frankie Musonda and Joe Oastler started as the central defenders, all four protecting goal-keeper Craig King.
City had the first chance of the game on seven minutes as Nombe was able to power past his man and get into a wide position inside the box. With little support, he struck powerfully to the near post of Mark Smith, however the Eastbourne stopper met it and put behind for a corner.
Sinclair was next to get himself into a shooting position inside the box on 15 minutes. He managed to get past the visitors defensive line, and looked set to shoot on his left foot, however an extra touch allowed the defence to regain control and clear the danger.
Just three minutes later and City were fortunate not to go behind. A corner that was swung in by Kane Wills found its way out to Matt Pickering unmarked in space, he took a touch and fired across King’s goal, leaving the City stopper beaten, however his effort also beat the far post.
A period of relative calm followed, and it was some 20 minutes later when the next effort of note was produced. Following a free-kick into the City box, the Hoops were able to break through Nombe. He passed inside to Fleet, who immediately sent Nombe down the wing, and picked up possession just inside the box. Smith had done well to close the angle early, and so when the City striker tried to poke past the visiting ‘keeper, he was able to pull off an excellent save.
With no further efforts of note in the first period, the sides went in with the deadlock yet to be broken. The Hoops had controlled possession during this period, however both sides had missed good opportunities to take the lead.
The second half started with Mark Jones having to make his first change on 51 minutes. It was an enforced one as Frankie Musonda picked up an injury and was replaced by Connor Stevens.
Just three minutes after this change and City took the lead. Nombe was able to burst his way down the wing once again before cutting in on the byline, taking a moment before smashing a low ball across goal towards Paterson, however the ball hit Pickering on it’s way through, the Eastbourne defender unable to stop the deflection off him heading into the City net.
City wasted no time in trying to add to their lead and were given a superb opportunity to do so as they were awarded a penalty just four minutes later in the 57th minute. Nombe found the surging run of Fleet inside the box, Sergio Torres running with the City midfielder before tripping him on the edge of the six-yard box, giving referee Jack Packman no option but to point to the spot. Paterson stepped up to take the kick and confidently sent Smith the wrong way to put City into a two-goal lead.
City were keeping up the momentum and kept pushing forward to try and grab a third. The 62nd minute saw Grant pick the ball up on the left before whipping a dangerous low cross in that looked destined for the boot of Sinclair, however Harry Ransom was able to get a foot to the ball first to send it out for a corner, which came to nothing.
Three minutes later Fleet tried to add to the score. He got possession just outside the box before cutting onto his right foot before curling a ball that only just passed Smith’s left-hand post.
He tried something similar on 70 minutes as he struck the ball on the half volley 35 yards out, Smith having to scramble across his goal only to see the ball once again just pass his left-hand post.
The City management took the opportunity to freshen their side in an attempt to try and wrap up the game. Zac McEachran was withdrawn, replaced by Kavan Cotter.
Despite controlling the second period, the Hoops were made to sweat for the final five minutes as the visitors halved the deficit through Yemi Odubade. The striker was able to get into the box in a wide position before smashing past Craig King in the far corner.
Mark Jones made his final change late on in an attempt to shore up his defence for the final minutes, Udoka Godwin-Malife coming on to replace Sam Nombe.
The change paid off as the visitors struggled to get anything clear cut on the Hoops’ goal in the time remaining, and they held on to record an important win in their quest to guarantee survival. Although they have remain in 15th place in the table, their win, along with Poole Town’s loss at Chelmsford City, has left them 12 points clear with the drop zone, with only 15 available to play for.
The Hoops are in midweek action this coming week as they travel down the M40 to Wealdstone on Wednesday evening for a re-arranged National League South fixture, 19:45 kick-off.
Oxford City – King, Jones, Grant, Fofana, Musonda (Stevens 50), Oastler, Nombe (Godwin-Malife 88), Fleet, Paterson, Sinclair, McEachran (Cotter 75).
Subs not used – Forde, Henderson.
Attendance - 221