Report - Wealdstone 0-2 Oxford City
Six in Seven for Mark Jones' Men!
Oxford City made an immediate return to winning ways with a hard-earned 2-0 win over Wealdstone.
Kabongo Tshimanga struck after just four minutes as the Hoops dominated the first half, before linking up with Bobson Bawling to double his side's lead with his 20th goal of the season.
Mark Jones had plenty to think about going into the game with two instrumental players - Joe Oastler and Zac McEachran - missing due to suspension and injury respectively. With a small squad to select from the manager was forced to improvise as Udoka Godwin-Malife and Ben Jefford played through injuries of their own, forming a central defensive partnership ahead of goalkeeper Craig King. Eddie Jones retained his place at right fullback, with the versatile Kyran Wiltshire dropping back into defence on the left, behind a midfield of Reece Fleet, Josh Ashby, and Jack Self. Finally, Kabby Tshimanga operated as lone striker with support from wingers Bobson Bawling and Sam Nombe.
The Hoops got off to an almost perfect start as, after just four minutes, they were handed the lead in bizarre fashion. Wealdstone goalkeeper Jonathan North received a backpass and seemed surprised to find Tshimanga closing him down, his clearance cannoning back off of the striker and into the back of the net.
Whilst their goal involved more than a small slice of good fortune, City went on to prove they were good value for their lead as they dominated the early chances. The Stones struggled to deal with a 9th minute corner, half clearing multiple deliveries until Ashby took charge with an effort from range which was deflected behind.
Two minutes later, the Hoops went closer still – Bawling took control of the ball deep inside the opposing box but saw his effort saved by North, only for Nombe to be denied an easy finish by an excellent last-ditch tackle.
A clash of heads in the City box prompted a significant stoppage and, with it, a drop in the tempo of the game.
With half an hour played, Wealdstone began to show signs of threatening King's goal – the City stopper rising well to claim a free kick before his defence blocked a long range effort.
With 10 minutes of the half remaining, Tshimanga took control of the ball in the opposing box but, despite turning his man, was unable to get a clean shot away. Instead, Fleet took over with a sliding effort which lacked the power to beat North.
The final chance of the half fell to the Hoops, Self lining up a looping volley from the edge of the area which narrowly cleared the crossbar.
City came close to starting the second half as quickly as the first. Nombe was the first to come close, arriving at the front post to meet Bawling's low cross and smashing his effort against the post, before Bawling himself lined up a curling effort from the left of the area which North did superbly to tip around the post.
The Hoops had the ball in the back of the net for a second time in the 52nd minute. Tshimanga challenged both North and Jerome Okimo for a long ball, the latter colliding with his own goalkeeper and leaving the striker free to slot into an empty net. The referee, however, pulled play back for a Wealdstone free kick.
With the significant slope of the Grosvenor Vale pitch in their favour for the second half, the hosts began to look more threatening going forwards. King made his first significant save of the game in the 52nd minute, getting down superbly to push Ogo Obi's effort away.
The hosts continued to increase the pressure over the next ten minutes, going close with a handful of shots off target and dangerous crosses which just failed to find their mark. When one ball did find its man, Okimo was unlucky to see his header pass narrowly wide.
With the momentum in the process of shifting the wrong way, the Hoops were able to find a second goal and turn the tide of the game firmly back in their favour. Tshimanga's tireless chasing won his side a throw deep inside enemy territory, and Jones took charge to find Bawling with his back to goal in the 6 yard box. The winger did well to control the ball but found himself pinned near the byline from where he produced a delightful backheel directly into Tshimanga's path, leaving the club's top scorer with the comparatively simple task of rifling the ball low across goal and into the bottom corner.
With 15 minutes remaining, the hosts began to look increasingly desperate for a goal - Godfrey Poku's attempted bicycle kick summing up their effectiveness in front of goal.
Mark Jones made his first, and only, change of the game in the 82nd minute – Sam Nombe making way for Craig Fasanmade.
King was called into action once again in the 85th minute when Okimo's header from a corner took an awkward bounce, forcing the 'keeper to palm the ball over the bar. The second corner was met by Danny Green, his header comfortably clearing the bar.
A lengthy period of added time came and went without Wealdstone mustering another shot on target, seeing the Hoops to a winning end to 2018.
Oxford City: King, Jones, Wiltshire, Ashby, Godwin-Malife, Jefford, Nombe (Fasanmade 82), Fleet, Tshimanga, Self, Bawling.
Subs: Otudeko, Barrett, O'Donoghue, Carter.