Report - Concord Rangers 0-1 Oxford City
By Oxford City FC
Brandon's Goal Beats the Beachboys
Oxford City put a dent in Concord Rangers’ play-off hopes as they ran out 1-0 winners at the Aspect Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Brandon Thomas-Asante’s 53rd minute goal was enough for the Hoops to seal the double over the Canvey Island based side, and did so without conceding a goal.
Mark Jones was given a boost heading into the match as Kabongo Tshimanga was able to shake off a hamstring complaint picked up on Tuesday evening on England C duty, allowing the City boss to name an unchanged lineup from the one that beat Hemel Hempstead last weekend.
Tshimanga resumed his position as a lone striker and was supported in this role by attacking-midfielder Thomas-Asante, and wingers Kyran Wiltshire and Bobson Bawling, while Reece Fleet and Josh Ashby controlled the central midfield. At the back, captain Joe Oastler was partnered in central defence by Tarik Moore-Azille, while Eddie Jones and Jack Self operated in the full-back positions. All four protected goalkeeper Craig King.
It was a rather innocuous start to the match, with both teams taking time to get into their rhythm. While the hosts controlled possession in this period, they were unable to force a clear opportunity until the 16th minute.
A free-kick in a wide position just outside the box was struck well by Danny Green, and with the ball heading towards the bottom corner, King got across well to push the ball behind for a corner.
Nine minutes after and it was City who had their own free-kick from a similar position. Thomas-Asante’s effort had Sam Beasant worried, however it didn’t quite dip in time as it flew over the bar.
Almost immediately, the Beachboys were able to break and Joan Luque was played through one-on-one with King. The ‘keeper did well though to come out to the edge of his box and stand tall as the Concord forward could not squeeze an effort around him.
With just ten minutes to go in the first period, Thomas-Asante called Beasant into action again. Passing around the City midfield eventually saw the ball fall to the MK Dons loanee in space. His shot was fierce, however the home custodian got down well to save.
There was time for one final piece of first half drama as Eddie Jones came to the Hoops’ rescue as a Sam Ashford shot had King beaten, however the full-back was in position on the line to hack away just in time.
Whatever Mark Jones had said at half-time really sparked his side into action, as a fast start to the second period saw two early efforts from his men.
Within two minutes, Thomas-Asante forced Beasant to save with his feet from a wide position, with Ashby then forcing a superb block from the home defence moments after as his goalbound shot was deflected away.
However, just six minutes after, the Hoops were able to go one better. A fast break saw Tshimanga play in Bawling down the left. The winger then played it back to the 34-goal striker, who then got the ball to Fleet who in turn found Thomas-Asante on the penalty spot. He was then able to turn and strike in one action, leaving Beasant with no chance as the shot nestled in the bottom corner.
But with a win crucial for their play-off chances, a reaction from the home side was to be expected. King was once again forced into action just after the hour as Luque connected well with a shot from the edge of the box, City’s stopper doing well to get across and punch behind for a corner.
For the final stages, Mark Jones opted to change up his side, making three changes in the space of 15 minutes. Three of his front line were to be replaced as Brandon Thomas-Asante, Kabby Tshimanga and Bobson Bawling were all withdrawn, Ryan Case replacing the latter to bolster the defensive options, while Craig Fasanmade and Owen James were to provide different options up front as the Hoops looked for decisive second goal.
This danger was obvious almost immediately as a devastating run forward by James was stopped abruptly by the home defence, referee Tom Bishop awarding a free-kick just outside the box. Ashby stepped up and, while powerful effort was good, it was just wide of the post.
But heading into the four minutes of added time, the hosts were able to force a couple of set pieces. It was the second that caused the most concern for City. A free-kick was whipped in towards Jack Midson. He was able to get his head onto it, however could not get the direction as King was able to see the ball wide.
The result saw Concord Rangers drop three points adrift of the playoff positions, however they have an opportunity to make up the gap as they play their game in hand on Tuesday evening. The Hoops sit eight points off those positions, and whilst it is not a mathematical impossibility quite yet, they'd need some quite remarkable miracles to make it.
The Hoops return to Marsh Lane next weekend for a ‘3G derby’ as Slough Town make the short trip to Oxfordshire for a National League South fixture, 3pm kick-off on Easter Saturday.
Oxford City: King, Self, Jones, Ashby, Moore-Azille, Oastler, Wiltshire, Fleet, Tshimanga (Fasanmade 74), Thomas-Asante (James 68), Bawling (Case 82).
Unused: Caro, O’Donoghue