Report - Oxford City 2-0 Concord Rangers
Ashby and Sinclair see City to victory
By Ryan Bratley
Oxford City battled to a hard-earned 2-0 victory over a strong and organised Concord Rangers side.
Rob Sinclair's second half tap-in, combined with Josh Ashby's strike from a free kick right on the stroke of half time, gave the Hoops the advantage whilst resolute defending and another fine display from Craig King secured a 5th clean sheet in eight competitive home games.
Mark Jones had the privilege of naming an unchanged side from that which humbled Dartford in the FA Cup a week prior. Fresh from his heroics in that game, Kabby Thsimanga retained his place as lone striker, supported on either side by Bobson bawling and Zac McEachran. Rob Sinclair, Josh Ashby and Reece Fleet remained in midfield whilst the spine of the team was rounded out by centre halves Udoka Godwin-Malife and Joe Oastler, and of course the aforementioned King in goal. Finally, Ben Jefford and Kyran Wilshere completed the lineup at left and right fullback respectively.
With the club celebrating Non-League Day and the weather seemingly on their side, any fans expecting the game to provide an excellent advert for the game were left sorely disappointed by the first half. Whilst both teams were able to establish themselves as good sides with the ball at their feet, clear-cut chances on goal were few and far between as Fleet and Danny Green both sent pot-shots well high and wide of their respective targets.
City's intricate passing play was almost rewarded in the 17th minute when Tshimanga's trickery allowed him to dart into the box and pick out Sinclair. 12 yards out, the only thing between the midfielder and an opening goal proved to be the last-ditch block of a brave defender.
Five minutes later, Concord had the opportunity to go one better when Sam Blackman raced clear of the defence. His shot from a wide angle forced the first of many fine saves from King, at the expense of a corner which ultimately came to nothing.
With 20 minutes passing without incident, it seemed as though the half was destined to end goalless. However, a Tshimanga break looked set to see the striker through on goal only to be cut short by a well-timed foul by Aron Pollock. The defender was spared an early bath by the support of teammate preventing him from being deemed last man, but justice was to be swift as Ashby stepped up to take the set piece from the edge of the box. With the wall set up to guard one side of the goal, Ashby bamboozled goalkeeper Sam Beasant by placing his finish into the unprotected right hand side of the goal with what proved to be the final kick of the half.
The second half threatened to go the same way as much of the first, the opening 20 minutes passing without incident once again. Fortunately, the game livened up in its final quarter with City acting as the catalysts.
Beasant appeared intent on earning redemption for his part in the opening goal, coming out on top of a one-on-one with the usually clinical Sinclair before producing an excellent save from Oastler's header off of the resulting corner. Unfortunately, goalkeepers tend to be better remembered for their failures than their successes, and this proved to be the case for Concord's number one.
A teasing ball down the right channel coaxed Beasant out of his area, but not before McEachran got his foot on the ball. The young midfielder's composure allowed him to pick out Sinclair who, with an open goal gaping ahead of him, made no mistakes with either his touch or finish to double the lead with 15 minutes remaining.
Unsurprisingly, the goal forced the visitors to throw caution to the wind and begin bombarding the Hoops' box. The physicality of Alex Wall and Jack Midson looked set to overwhelm the defence, however Oastler and Godwin-Malife were more than a match - the latter in particular regularly having out-competed a significantly taller opponent in the air for much of the game.
When Concord did breach the City defence, they were met with the seemingly impenetrable figure of King. Wall was the first to be frustrated, his downward header from 6 yards being met by the sprawling stopper before substitute Tusan Popo suffered a similar fate with his effort from the right.
The Hoops could even have sealed victory in the 86th minute as Tshimanga burst clear down the left, only to shoot wide of the far post while under pressure from Beasant.
Oxford City: King, Wiltshire, Jefford, Ashby, Godwin-Malife, Oastler, McEachran (Fasanmade 90), Fleet, Tshimanga (Lobjoit 86), Sinclair, Bawling (Jones 66).
Unused: Eze, Carter.