Report - Hungerford Town 1-1 Oxford City
Winning run halted at Hungerford
Oxford City’s winning run came to an end on Boxing Day as they were unable to make it six in a row at Bulpit Lane with a 1-1 draw against a Hungerford Town side looking to break out of the bottom three.
Kyran Wiltshire opened the scoring in the first 15 minutes for the Hoops, however he was sent off alongside the Crusaders’ Marvel Ekpiteta a few minutes later. Hungerford rescued a point midway through the second half as Darren Foxley’s free-kick set up an intriguing final half an hour.
Following his side’s 3-0 victory on Saturday against Weston-super-Mare, a result that made it five consecutive league wins, Mark Jones made one change to his starting lineup. Craig Fasanmade was the one to miss out as his place was taken by forward Kunle Otudeko. He started in an attacking midfield that also included Sam Nombe and Kyran Wiltshire, who complimented lone striker Kabongo Tshimanga. Reece Fleet and
Jack Self sat further back in midfield, while Joe Oastler and Udoka Godwin-Malife started as centre-halves, alongside full backs Eddie Jones and Tom Carter, all four protecting goalkeeper Craig King.
Both sides had early periods of possession to get into the match, however neither team were able to test a goalkeeper within ten minutes.
The first time either side really got a sight of goal, it in fact resulted in the game’s opening goal, in the 11th minute. Following a foul on the half way line, Oastler delivered a drilled free-kick to Wiltshire in a central position on the edge of the box. His first touch was a good one which allowed him to turn and shoot, his effort taking a slight deflection on its way past Jake Weaver in the Hungerford goal.
The goalscorer, however was given his marching orders in the 26th minute, along with Hungerford’s Marvel Ekpiteta. The Crusaders’ centre-half was sent off for a poor challenge on Tshimanga, and with tensions flying in the aftermath, Wiltshire was adjudged to have raised his hands and was subsequently dismissed also.
It was the hosts who adapted to life with 10 men the best and were able to pressure the Hoops’ box. Despite this heavy pressure, King remained unchallenged in the City goal.
The last chance of the first half fell to the Hoops as Otudeko was brought down on the edge of the box. Oastler stepped up and curled his effort towards the near post, however it was to just beat the post.
Just three minutes into the second period, Nombe was able to beat several defenders as he wriggled his way into the box, his shot from a wide angle beating the ‘keeper, but also both posts.
On the hour mark, however, the hosts were level. A free-kick near the by-line on the right-hand side was taken by Darren Foxley, his effort leaving King helpless as it flew into the top corner.
The hosts continued to pressure the City goal, that forced Mark Jones into a double substitution on 67 minutes in an effort to try and find an elusive winning goal. Craig Fasanmade and Josh Ashby came on to replace Tom Carter and Kunle Otudeko. Self dropped back into the full back position vacated by Carter.
It looked to have worked almost instantly as some superb work by Nombe on the by-line let him cut in, and with Fasanmade open in the centre, the forward waited for Weaver to fully commit before squaring for the substitute, however the keeper did superbly to smother the ball at Nombe’s feet.
Three minutes later, and the Hoops carved out an almost identical chance. After Nombe had once again beaten his man on the by-line, this time he found Fasanmade in the centre, however his low shot was read by the keeper who was able to dive and get the effort away.
Following this, it was the hosts who were to have the best chances to win it late on. With 15 minutes to go, Richie Whittingham was found free of the City defence, however his clear shot on City’s goal was poor and straight at King.
There was one more half chance in City in search of a winner. Following a few passes on the edge of the Hungerford box, the ball eventually fell to Ashby who was only able to place his shot well over the bar.
With just two minutes of the added four minutes to play, Hungerford had a final golden chance to snap up the points. Alfy Whittingham was found free just inside the City box, however his first time effort at King’s goal ended up flying high and wide of the goal.
With the sides unable to be separated on Boxing Day, they will fight it out again on New Year’s Day in the reverse league fixture as the second instalment of the festive double header, a 3pm kick-off at Marsh Lane.
Before that however, the Hoops have a tough assignment away at Wealdstone on Saturday 29th December, 3pm kick-off at Grosvenor Vale.
Oxford City: King, Jones, Carter (Ashby 67), Self, Godwin-Malife, Oastler, Nombe, Fleet, Tshimanga, Otudeko (Fasanmade 67), Wiltshire.
Unused: Bawling, Barrett, O’Donoghue.