Oxford City made light work of what could have been a classic FA Cup banana skin, recording a dominant 7-0 win in an Oxfordshire derby against North Leigh.
The Hoops went into the break three goals to the good, and a flurry of four further finishes in the final quarter of an hour – including a debut effort from teenager Rhys King – ensured that they progressed to the next round in style.
Mark Jones came into the game faced with a number of headaches: a combination of injuries and unavailability leaving the City boss with a limited pool of players to select from. Due to parent club Luton Town not allowing Harry Isted to take part in the cup, Craig King was forced to play through injury with youth team goalkeeper Ethan Gough ready to deputise from the bench. Meanwhile, an injury to Eddie Jones saw Kyran Wiltshire deputise at fullback, joining Joe Oastler, Finn Tapp, and Ben Jefford in the back four. It was a similar story in midfield as Zac McEachran also missed out, however Josh Ashby was able to return from suspension to join Reece Fleet, Jack Self, and Craig Fasanmade. Finally, forward Ty-Rhys Paul-Jones was finally able to make his debut following difficulties obtaining international clearance, partnering Reece Beckles-Richards up front.
With last season's closely-contested Oxfordshire Senior Cup semi final fresh in the memory, it was a relief when Self's long-range finish gave the Hoops took the lead after just two minutes.
The Hoops doubled their lead 15 minutes later. Ashby delievered a free kick from the right wing into a dangerous position and, with the ball taking a deflection on its way through, Adam Learoyd's header found the back of his own net.
The hosts remained in control as the half drew on, and made their dominance count in the 33rd minute when they added a third goal. North Leigh 'keeper Edward Cavanagh made a mess of a comparatively tame effort on goal, weakly spilling the ball to Self who remained composed to set up Jefford for a routine tap-in.
With the game quickly slipping out of reach, the Millers rallied towards the end of the half. Tyriq Hunte forced a superb save from King – the City stopper sprawling to divert his goalbound effort over the bar – before a goalmouth scramble ended with the ball striking the underside of the bar. The Hoops, however, held firm to carry their three goal lead into the break.
Mark Jones treated the interval as an opportunity to shuffle his deck, introducing Nana Owusu in place of Craig Fasanmade.
The second half began quietly, Paul-Jones' low cross going unmet in what proved to be the highlight of the opening quarter of an hour, but sprang into life with approximately 20 minutes remaining when an Owusu free kick struck the post before cannoning off of Cavanagh's back and narrowly clearing the crossbar.
Ashby, however, went one better just moments later. The midfielder lined up another dead ball from a similar position and Cavanagh could only help his placed effort into the back of the net.
The fourth goal opened the floodgates with two more following inside the space of five minutes.
First Fleet made inroads down the left, working his way into the box and playing a low ball for a sliding Wiltshire to steer home at the back post. Then, barely a minute later, substitute Jenson Wright notched his first for the club in similar fashion – Beckles-Richards this time the provider following a lively run down the right.
The goalscoring, however, was not quite done. Jack Self made way for Rhys King in the Hoops' final change, and the youngster made an almost immediate impact.
Still reeling from the three quickfire goals they had just conceded, the Millers looked to steady their own ship with a period of possession in their own half. This proved to be costly as King did superbly to win the ball on the edge of the opposing area, smartly dropping a shoulder to beat a defender before firing a composed finish across Cavanagh to complete the scoring.
Victory sees the Hoops one step closer to repeating their heroics of the past two seasons with just two wins now required to book a place in the First Round Proper and a potential meeting with another Football League club. Who we will face next, however, is a question we must wait to have answered: the draw for the next round taking place at lunchtime on Monday.
Oxford City face a trip to Braintree Town next weekend, but will return to home action in a fortnight, when Dartford will visit Marsh Lane in the Vanarama National League South.
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