Oxford City 2 County 1 : ( Conference North) 7 October 2014






 Imagine the scene.....County had held free scoring .....high flying Oxford City  for much of the game.....come back from a two goal deficit at the break , to pull one back and give themselves something of a chance with some determined if sporadic attacking play. The game was into 5 minutes added time when the ball reached Spencer who quickly shaped to shoot, but the referee was even quicker and before the ball left Spencer`s foot, he had blown for time!  The shot finished up in the net of course but it mattered not ...one blast of the referees whistle had dished County, and won the game for City.
Add one that crossed the line and wasn`t given and a real County hard luck story begs your attention, but for much of the game County struggled to hold the pacy Oxford forwards, most notable amongst these being Adi Yussuf who scored two good goals and might have notched more on another night.
  
 
Adi Yussuf.
If I expected an Oxford side packed with highly skilled Spaniards to run us ragged with a footballing tsunami, I found myself slightly bemused as this never materialised. Instead they sent a constant stream of long high balls in Hurst`s direction  which put County under severe pressure at times, a fact fed upon by Yussuf, Jackson and Isaac whose pace and ability to switch positions adeptly gave the blues problems, particularly in the first half.
 Only to go in 2 down at the break, was a decent showing in my book, and much credit goes to the County defence in which Matthew Todd was outstanding- this time at left back! The second half saw County shape up well and they soon pulled one back through Dennis after keeper Mark Scott failed to hold a shot from Sharp, who  was sent off late on in a low key `incident’ that seemed to pass without anyone in the crowd noticing it. Down to 10......County kept at it, only to be cruelly denied at the death by the man in black!


Back at 19.45 none of the above was known as County kicked off heading our way. Although first blood fell County`s way via a free kick awarded for a foul on Baker, well marshalled defending by City saw the threat off.
Play switched ends next and under pressure from Jackson, Gregson conceded a corner which saw Hurst in danger of a mugging with no less than 3 home forward`s in his face. A County free kick saw this danger averted, only for Isaac to run at us again, bringing the first of many neat interventions from Todd in response.
 
Baker to the fore......
After this Oxford continued to press with Pond in the van pushing County back , and I was relieved to see a shot from Jackson whizz into the side netting ,when something altogether more nasty beckoned. County were struggling to handle the pressure as Jackson and Isaac endeavoured, with Yussuf, to break the deadlock. Another corner momentarily eased County`s angst, only for the referee to bring it on again by penalising Toddy, for what looked another decent challenge. Winters lumped the free kick straight out of play, but there was a need for a response from County, and maybe some sustained attacking to take the pressure off the back four.
This did not materialise however.....indeed O`Halloran had to look lively to ensure a neat combo twixt Jackson and Isaac did not result in the opening goal. On it went with Oxford forcing another corner....O`Halloran again prominent in clearing the next raid up after Isaac had pinged one in from the right at speed.
There was a brief reply from the blues, some 13 minutes in, but Baker was unluckily inches away from applying a finish to a decent throw by Dennis. Sharp was unlucky too moments later to see Scott dash out of his box to head into touch, as a beautiful ball from Todd bisected the home defence perfectly.

 
County press.....
Ridiculously....not long after this, the referee saw fit to book Todd. That was a desperately poor decision, but there was a free kick to defend, and Hurst did this well, pouncing hungrily on the ball as Winters` kick whizzed over.
Still I awaited something coming back from County, but had to content myself by seeing them defend like tigers- captain Milligan doing extremely well to block a strike from Isaac, who had looked well set!  It was not that County were not of a mind to attack.....I am guessing the 100% opposite was true, but Milligan`s radar was not quite fully A1 as yet, and his attempts at starting raids from deep tended to founder when his passes proved too strong for those chasing them.
Meanwhile Oxford were seemingly geared up and raring to go for that opening goal, but this was proving an elusive prize , and Isaac made it so again ,midway through the half, latching onto what looked like a gilt edger with the goal gaping. It really did look to be a chance, but he hesitated......O`Halloran didn`t....chance  gone!
From the last action, County at last sprung to life through Milligan who surged forward with the ball as support arrived to his right and left. It looked great.....and then it didn`t as the referee halted the raid to give County a free kick!   Despite good work by Todd and Stevenson the free kick came to nought.....but had the referee allowed play to run..........

Milligan prepares his free kick.....

Sharp`s run to the by-line not long after, teed Todd up for a cross that put Scott under severe pressure. He came out with the ball in the end albeit after taking 2 attempts at it.
It was back to defensive work for County next as Benjamin ruined what was a fine run with the poorest of final balls, as O`Halloran , Lees and Todd all got good work in to stop the home side from prospering. Sharp did try to relieve the angst with a surging run, but when this was blocked ( by 2 defenders), the pressure was back on the blues again, and County kept it at 0-0 due to Hurst`s excellence, as he denied Yussuf with a  brave save after the City number 9 had skirted the by-line dangerously.
That was an escape but the relief lasted but a minute or so, as Oxford took the lead. It started down the left where Winters took advantage of a slip by Lees to ping over a cross. It was delivered firm and low into the box where Yussuf latched onto it before drilling a fierce first timer into the net!
Dennis did see a shot hit the bar not long after the goal, but the liner`s flag told us it would not have counted- offside he reckoned....perhaps unsurprisingly I was not at all sure he was correct!
No matter within 5 minutes of goal number one....Oxford added a second...again through Yussuf, and this time it was a belter as he went past Churchman on half way with supreme ease before heading for goal and blasting the ball home!
The rest of the half was spent with County defending in determined fashion , before going in 0-2 down, to lick their wounds and soak up some sage advice from AL.

 
Back for more- County return after the break !
The re-start saw County firing on all cylinders, and within a couple of minutes they had pulled a goal back!  Oxford were hard pressed to keep them out, and then they didn`t! First off it looked like they had though as Scott somehow kept Sharp`s shot out, but he couldn`t hold onto it, and Dennis did the rest.....nipping in to slot a neat finish home!
Oxford back in numbers.......

County kept the pressure on for a time after the goal, but it was Oxford who came closest to adding to the score, some 5 minutes later, as Yussuf, hungry for his hat-trick, latched onto a loose ball and  went for goal. It was a gilt edger once again, and to be fair Yussof did get a decent shot off, only for Hurst to deny him with the bravest of saves!
Unlike the first half...that last action was the briefest of breaks in a period of County attacking play, and Scott did well to keep Baker, and then Dennis, from reaching through balls. Ten minutes into the half however and his luck seemed to be out! At this point I will clarify that I had moved behind the goal for the second half and was in an excellent position to see the next action, and it started with a free kick...then a shot from Sharp that again Scott could only parry! In the air it flew then, and Lees met it with the firmest of headers that fizzed its way goal ward. It was at least a foot over the line when Benjamin headed it out, but liner and referee were oblivious to any protest, and the vociferous bunch of City fans twixt me and play, were not inclined to join in ...so it stayed 1-2.....County had been dished!
Twice after this Yussuf went close to ending County`s interest- firstly via a slip by Gregson that he failed to put away, and then from a real shoo in that came his way after Hurst pushed a shot from Isaac out. The goal gaped invitingly...but he spurned the chance by shooting wide!
At this point I will take time out to comment on the supporters on the covered terrace behind the goal. In the second half the terrace held contingents of County   and City fans, both sets engaging fully in lively support of their team and banter with the other group. There was obviously no segregation and pretty much no stewarding, but it all went off magnificently well, with never a hint of trouble, and both groups should be proud of their performance!

 
That terrace......

Back to the game, and County kept working for that equaliser, but Sharp`s run was cut short by a foul by Lapoujade, who received a booking for his pains. County had a free kick, and it was a Milligan special and was heading in until Scott launched himself upwards and backwards to tip the pill over the bar at the very last gasp!

 
A booking for Lapoujade...
Substitutes Hogan and Barcelos did some good work after this for City – the latter`s run putting County under the cosh for a time, but mostly it was the yellow shirted blues on the offensive, although I was beginning to think that it was a losing battle despite the all out attacking, which was rudely interrupted by the sending off of Sharp. I did not see what happened ( off the ball apparently)and it appeared a very low octane incident indeed, however Sharp walked and the blues were down to 10.

 
A lonely vigil for Hurst late on......
Despite their numerical disadvantage County continued to take the game to their opponents, but, as I say....I felt it was a losing battle, until yet another County attack took quick shape deep into added time. In no time the ball was with Spencer and he was off and clear in the blink of an eye, but as he drew his foot back to shoot, the referee blew for time. A second or so later the ball nestled in the net, and the game should have been saved, but it wasn`t- the game had ended in the most disgraceful of manners with County comprehensively goosed by the officials!
I should be used to all this by now, but I absolutely refuse to accept this nonsense as the norm. The only explanation I can come up with as to how/ why the officials performed so ,is.....



Are County good enough to rise above it all though, and come back from this set back? I would say so....Oxford were no pussies, and will turn over loads more teams before the season ends, so.....believe.....and I`ll see you all at Edgeley Park on Saturday to cheer them on in the F.A Cup!

County line up:

Hurst, Lees( Woolfe 86), Gregson, O`Halloran, Todd, Churchman( Moses 70), Milligan, Baker, Stevenson ( Spencer 80), Dennis, Sharp.

Substitutes not used:

Ormson, Fagbola.

Oxford City line up:

Scott, Benjamin, Stonehouse, Pond, Lapoujade, Henderson, Isaac, Mullings, Yussuf, Jackson, Winters.



Substitutes:

Used : Rodrigues, Barcelos, Un used : Hogan, Brown, Josh Green.

Attendance: 562       

Ian Brown

And now from Ian Watts.......

VANARAMA CONFERENCE NORTH ROUND-UP

On Monday night Hyde recorded a 3-3 draw at home to promotion chasers Chorley. Josh Brizell (22) had given them the half time lead. Darren Stephenson (48) levelled the scores but Tom Bentham (49) quickly restored Hyde's lead. A Stephenson brace (69 & 72) turned the scores around. Hyde still had a response although it came after Chris Doyle was red carded. Connor Hughes (90) scored from the resultant penalty and shortly after Dale Whitham saw a second yellow.
Top placed AFC Fylde had no such problems at Tamworth. Going ahead after 24 minutes through Daniel Lloyd-McGoldrick. Additional goals from Joe Booth (64) and Michael Barnes (66) finished off the home side.
It was a busy first half at North Ferriby where United quickly established a 2-0 lead through Jason St Juste (5) and Liam King (15), Leamington responded on 25 minutes when Stefan Moore scored. The advantage was restored by Nathan Jarman, 8 minutes later and 3-1 was how it finished.
With County slipping up at Oxford City, Guiseley took full advantage. Former County man Danny Boshell (17) scored his first of the season and Jake Lawlor (36) doubled Guiseley's lead. Stalybridge Celtic continued to suffer in the second half when Adam Boyes (50) wrapped up the points. Keith Briggs' side managed to pull back one goal in injury time through Aidan Chippendale.
In the mid-table battle Colwyn Bay took the points on one of their shortest trips of the season. Rob Hopley (55) and Obi Anorou (68) scored the goals at Hednesford Town.
There was only a single goal at Lowestoft Town and it was visitors Brackley who scored it through Shaun Jeffers (36).
In the final game there was a rare, for the Conference North, 0-0 draw as neither Harrogate Town nor Gainsborough Trinity could find the net.
County slip up a place in the table with Oxford City and Barrow having the chance to pull further ahead on Saturday when we
are involved in the FA Cup.     


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