Tuesday, 28 August 2012

MATCH REPORT: Oxford City 2-2 Worcester City

Oxford City snatched a draw with the last kick of a match in which all the action was saved for the final few minutes. The draw leaves City just outside the play-off positions in sixth and unbeaten in their last three games. Their guests arrived at Court Place Farm unbeaten so far this season and in fourth pace in the table – another formidable test for Mike Ford's side.

The first half was a cagey affair, with neither side able to apply any pressure or fashion a chance. City attempted to pass it around with little success, giving the ball away cheaply with alarming frequency. The most interesting aspect of the half was the personal battle which evolved between City's Kynan Isaac and Worcester's Tyler Weir, the City defender winding up his opponent with a series of niggly fouls which eventually spilled over into outright aggression as the teams were leaving the field at half time.

Oxford and Worcester traded shots towards the end of the first half, some good work from City's Felipe Barcelos forcing Worcester 'keeper Glyn Thompson to save low to his left, before Worcester themselves went close from a free kick.

The match really came alive in the second half. Oxford City started the brighter of the two teams as the heavens opened, but it was Worcester who took the lead ten minutes after the break. Mike Symonds beat the offside trap and slotted coolly past Warren Carter in the City goal, before running to celebrate with the travelling Worcester fans. It was tough luck for City in what had up to that point been a fairly even match, but the goal stung them into action and they pressed forward with greater urgency for the rest of the match.

City thought they had equalised when Andy Gunn rose to meet a lofted corner, but the ball was cleared from the line amidst a tangle of legs in the penalty area. They continued to pile on the pressure, but the clock kept ticking towards 90 minutes. The travelling Worcester support – by now in jubilant mood – decided to play keep-ball when the ball went out for a goal kick and City appeared to be heading for their second home defeat.

But on 89 minutes substitute Albi Skendi popped up with a goal which appeared to rescue a point for the hoops. Worcester failed to deal with a ball into the six-yard box and after a prolonged game of header tennis the ball eventually fell to Skendi who volleyed into the bottom corner. At this point Mike Ford was shouting to his players to keep their heads and see the game out, but immediately from the kick-off City had conceded a free kick on the edge of the area. Tom Thorley stepped up to take the kick for Worcester, curling the ball beautifully past the wall to nestle into the net via the inside of the post.

The game appeared to be up for City, but no one seemed to have told former United youngster Declan Benjamin. With the last kick of the match he latched onto an inch-perfect through ball which cut through the heart of the Worcester City defence and with tremendous calmness guided the ball past the Worcester goalkeeper to salvage a point for Oxford City right at the death.

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