Report - Oxford City 3-0 Weston-super-Mare
City Down the Seagulls
Oxford City kept their unprecedented run of match-winning form going with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Weston super Mare.
With Marsh Lane having become something of a fortress of late – the Hoops had conceded only one goal in their previous 3 home games, scoring 11 in return – the visit of the league's basement side was seen by many as a potential stumbling block. As expected they didn't have it all their own way, losing captain Joe Oastler to a controversial red card, but not before taking a three goal lead thanks to goals from Reece Fleet, Kabby Tshimanga, and Oastler himself.
Mark Jones faced a couple of headaches going into the game as he looked to nurture his injury-hit side through a difficult festive period: Ben Jefford, Zac McEachran, and Josh Ashby all absent through injury, with Bobson bawling fit enough only for the bench. Craig King lined up in goal, protected by a back four of Eddie Jones, Tom Carter, Udoka Godwin-Malife and Joe Oastler. Jack Self returned to the midfield having been cup-tied for Saturday;s ill-fated clash with Maidenhead, partnering Reece Fleet with utility man Kyran Wiltshire moving into the number 10 role vacated by McEachran. A youthful and pacey front three of Craig Fasanmade, Sam Nombe and Kabby Tshimanga completed the lineup with two further youngsters – Ben Barrett and John O'Donoghue – joining Bawling and Kunle Otudeko on the bench.
A dull opening 15 minutes soon gave way to a flurry of goalmouth action. Nombe provided City's first two efforts on goal, initially shooting straight at goalkeeper Luke Purnell before driving down the right channel only to see his shot deflected wide of the near post for a corner.
The defence was tested once again when Self aimed a cross towards Tshimanga, the striker's shot blocked at close range.
The pressure finally paid off right on the half hour mark. Fasdanmade worked hard to win the ball in the Seagulls' half and the ball was quickly worked to Fleet who made no mistakes when one-on-one with Purnell, slotting a composed finish between the goalkeeper's legs to give his side the lead.
Oastler could have made it two five minutes later as he rose highest at the back post, but his header passed wide of the target.
The opening stages of the second half were just as inauspicious as the first, but it once again took 15 minutes for the game to burst back into life.
This time, it was a City goal which woke the Marsh Lane crowd up. A short corner routine granted Self the time and space to pick out Oastler and the City skipper rose well to plant a header back across goal and into the back of the net.
Mark Jones made his first change in the 69th minute – Craig Fasanmade making way for Bobson bawling.
With 20 minutes remaining, the Hoops could have made the game safe – Tshimanga receiving the ball from Nombe but failing to find the target. Fortunately, the club's top scorer made amends in the 80th minute when a shot from substitute Kunle Otudeko – who had replaced Kyran Wiltshire moments earlier – was parried into his path, finishing confidently into the far bottom corner despite having to slide for the ball.
3-0 up and looking more than comfortable, City's job suddenly became a little more difficult when Oastler saw red for a challenge on the edge of his own area in the 82nd minute.
The sending off forced a third and final change from Mark Jones, John O'Donoghue making his debut as he replaced Sam Nombe.
Far from hanging on for dear life with a one man disadvantage, the Hoops went close to extending their lead when Fleet cut in from the right to power an effort straight at Purnell.
Four added minutes came and went without incident, the final whistle bringing to an end City's 5th consecutive league win, and their 5th consecutive win in all competitions.
As is customary over the festive period, there will be little rest for the players as they face Hungerford Town in their Boxing Day fixture, before travelling to Wealdstone just three days later on the 29th. They must, however, wait until next year for their next home game – Hungerford the visitors in part two of the festive double-header on New Year's Day.