Report - Slough Town 2-0 Oxford City
Slough Down the Hoops
Oxford City fell to a second consecutive National League South defeat on the road on Saturday afternoon as Slough Town scored a goal in each half to see themselves to a 2-0 win at Arbour Park.
James Dobson’s first half penalty, teamed with a second half Reece Fleet own goal were enough to see the Rebels to the win, in a match that the Hoops had captain Joe Oastler sent off just before the break.
Mark Jones was forced into two changes to the side that lost at Welling United a week ago, with Udoka Godwin-Malife missing out through illness and Eddie Jones through a prior commitment, however he was boosted by the return of Josh Ashby and Carl Stewart from injury, both who returned straight into the starting XI.
The City boss set his side up in a 4-4-2 formation that saw Craig King between the sticks, protected by a back four of Kyran Wiltshire at right-back, Ben Jefford at left-back with captain Joe Oastler and Luke Ruddick as the centre-halves. Ashby, Stewart and Reece Fleet lined up in the centre of the park, with Zac McEachran and Kabongo Tshimanga lining up as the wide men, supporting lone striker Matt Paterson.
The hosts started the brighter of the sides, however it was the Hoops who had the first real sight of goal in the ninth minute. The Hoops earned a corner which was taken by Ashby. The midfielder managed to find the head of Oastler around the penalty spot, however the Hoops’ captain was unable to guide his header on target.
It was the 15th minute before the first real clear-cut chance of the match, and it was to come from the penalty spot. Matty Stevens was played through down the left channel, however King raced out to try and narrow the angle. As the two converged, the Hoops keeper got down to try and push the ball away, at the same time taking the man. Referee James Durkin wasted little time in pointing to the spot.
Former City man Dobson stepped up, and despite King going the right way, the spot kick was perfectly in the corner, leaving the City stopper with little chance in saving it.
The Hoops had little luck in breaking down their opposition defence, however had plenty of possession in and around the midfield. In the 25th minute a lovely passing move ended up with the ball being spread to Tshimanga out on the left, the winger cutting in to his right foot before shooting, his effort blocked just inside the box.
Twelve minutes later and City caused the Slough defence some problems with another corner. The ball was delivered in once again by Ashby who found a Rebels body, however the initial clearance was straight up in the air. Ruddick met the rebound, his header was blocked before the ball was eventually cleared.
Almost immediately, Slough broke up the other end and should have grabbed a second. Some excellent linking between Sean Fraser and Warren Harris fed in Stevens down the right, his cross found Flood free in the middle for an easy tap in, however he mis-controlled the ball, allowing King to come across and push the ball wide.
On 45 minutes, City’s task became all the harder. Following a spell of pressure from the Hoops, the ball was cleared long up field by the hosts, which saw Oastler starting a foot race with Stevens. The Slough frontman beat his man for strength which eventually saw him grounded just outside the box, referee Durkin sending the Hoops captain off for a professional foul.
This was a blow for City who were hoping to be able to go into the break and re-group have a go at getting back into the game in the second half. To give his side as much of a go as possible, whilst trying to keep as much defensive stability as possible, Mark Jones made one half time substitution as Carl Stewart was replaced by Arti Krasniqi. He went straight into the left back position, while Ben Jefford was moved into the centre to partner Luke Ruddick.
It was the hosts who really controlled the opening periods of the first half. The 53rd minute saw them provide City with a huge let-off as Dobson’s swinging free-kick into the box found Harris completely unmarked, however his header across goal was wide of the target.
Six minutes later and the Hoops weren’t so lucky. The Rebels had earned a corner, which was sent to the far post, and with a crowd obscuring his view, the ball unexpectedly found its way to Fleet who could only watch as the ball ricocheted off of him and into the net to double the lead.
City did get a foothold back in the half following this goal, and nearly found a route back into the match on 69 minutes. Tshimanga did superbly down the right hand side, beating several challenges, before he sent in a looping cross that found its way to McEachran 10 yards out. His first-time effort beat the onrushing ‘keeper, however Lee Togwell had got back to clear off the line.
The Hoops were able to venture forward once again two minutes later. McEachran this time was able to find Paterson out wide. The striker cut in, took a couple of touches before shooting, however his effort was wide of the post.
A further three minutes after and the City frontman was played through once again. A ball over the top saw him in a race to get to the ball before the onrushing ‘keeper. Paterson won, however his attempted lob was brilliantly pushed away by Jack Turner in the Rebels goal.
In one last throw of the dice, Mark Jones made his second substitution on 75 minutes, Craig Fasanmade coming on to replace Josh Ashby.
He was in the action instantly as he burst down the right and was able to cut onto his left foot into the box. He found Tshimanga in a central position, however the winger was unable to get a shot off before the defence cleared.
The final ten minutes were controlled well by the hosts, who had a couple of chance to rub salt fully into the City wounds. King was alert to push a Harris shot away on 82 minutes, before the Hoops were saved by the offside flag with one minute of normal time remaining.
As the Hoops continued to pile men forward heading into added time, this inevitably left City very vulnerable to the counter attack. Stevens found himself clean through in the only minute of added time, however King stood his ground firmly to save when the striker got his effort away.
A very disappointing afternoon for the Hoops which saw them fall to a second consecutive defeat. They have an opportunity to get back on track next weekend as they welcome Bath City to Marsh Lane for another National League South fixture, 3pm kick-off.
Oxford City: King, Wiltshire, Jefford, Ashby (Fasanmade 75), Ruddick, Oastler, McEachran, Fleet, Paterson, Stewart (Krasniqi HT), Tshimanga.
Unused: Carter, Caro