Report - Oxford City 1-0 Torquay United
City Earn First Win
Oxford City produced a resolute second half display to record their first win of the 2018/19 Vanarama National League South Campaign, at the expense of Torquay United.
Hotly tipped to secure a return to the National League this season, The Gulls came into the game on the back of three successive clean sheets and may have been forgiven for expecting an easy evening at Marsh Lane. The reality, however, was much different as The Hoops' patient passing game led to Rob Sinclair's decisive 30th minute goal.
Following their narrow defeat at Woking, Oxford City were able to name an unchanged side. Ben Jefford and Luke Ruddick retained their places at left back and centre half respectively, the pair both awaiting the start of their suspensions following red cards at the weekend, alongside captain Joe Oastler and young full back Udoka Godwin-Malife. Josh Ashby and Reece Fleet took up positions deep in midfield; behind Rob Sinclair, Zac McEachran, and Kabongo Tshimanga. Finally, striker Matt Paterson rounded off the outfield players with Craig King in goal.
The opening exchanges saw few chances of note as the Hoops sought to establish themselves as a confident, passing side. A 16th minute free kick gave the visitors a sniff of goal, however the incoming effort fell comfortably into the arms of King.
Fleet looked to go one better just two minutes later, however his effort from range narrowly cleared the bar.
The visitors looked to have made the breakthrough in the 24th minute as Jean-Yves Niate, who enjoyed a brief and inauspicious spell with the Hoops during the 2016/17 campaign, swept a loose ball home only to see his effort ruled out for offside.
There were no such issues for City at the other end. With half an hour played, patient buildup around the box allowed a swift exchange of passes between Paterson and Fleet, the latter finding Sinclair six yards from goal. The cultured midfielder made no mistakes from such a position, aided perhaps in part by sluggish defending from a Torquay backline intent on seeing the flag raised for offside.
The goal appeared to galvanise the Gulls for a short period, with Oastler tested by a good cross in the 37th minute before King watched Brett Williams' effort pass safely over his crossbar.
The Hoops could have gone into the break with a two-goal cushion. A 45th minute corner created two golden opportunities as first Tshimanga and then Oastler both saw efforts on goal blocked superbly, the latter off of the line.
Where the hosts had dominated large periods of the first half, the second was to be a different story as Torquay repeatedly threatened Craig King's goal.
Gulls captain Brett Williams was the first to try his luck from range, his 50th minute effort crashing off of the face of the bar. Samir Nabi tried to go one better in the 56th minute, his shot from a more promising position finding only the far post.
The visitors continued to dominate position, albeit without troubling the scoresheet, prompting manager Mark Jones' first substitution of the night in the 69th minute: Eddie Jones providing additional experience in defence as he replaced Udoka Godwin-Malife.
Jones set to work at full back with a number of impeccably timed challenges, but City were still left lacking in attack. A quick break gave Paterson half a sight of goal in the 74th minute, his left-footed strike from the edge of the area sailing comfortably wide of goal.
Increasingly desperate for opportunities to equalise, Torquay's play became increasingly scrappy with seemingly promising set-pieces coming to nothing. Two further City substitutions did nothing to help their opponents settle into the final few minutes: Rob Sinclair and Kabongo Tshimanga replaced by Kyran Wiltshire and Abraham Eze respectively.
The final few minutes passed without incident, the full time whistle signalling the end of a tense second half in which the Hoops demonstrated their ability to see a game out against tough opposition.