Thursday, 6 September 2012

MATCH REPORT: Oxford United 1-0 Swindon Town

A large vocal crowd and a huge atmosphere. Late drama triggering pandemonium in the stands. Isn't that just the norm for the first round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy?

The JPT may be a pointless competition, but this was as intense as any derby match that has preceded it. It was a tense match of few chances which seemed to be heading for penalties before Alfie Potter's late strike ensured bragging rights stayed in Oxford.

However, it would have finished rather differently if the scoreline had reflected the balance of play. Swindon dominated possession (though perhaps not quite as comprehensively as the last time we played them) and seemed to find themselves with as much time on the ball as they could have wished for. In contrast, Oxford always seemed rushed on the ball and frequently gave away possession sloppily.

However, despite their possession, Swindon were incapable of creating any decent chances. Swindon new-boy Giles Coke spurned possibly their best chance in the opening minutes, getting the wrong side of the defence but blasting horribly wide. In fact, Ryan Clarke was left with very little to do, with Jake Wright seemingly on a mission to put his body in the way of every goalbound strike. The few that did make it past Wright's human wall never went close to troubling the 'keeper, with Darren Ward heading over with the goal gaping before him. Oxford's most significant chance of the first half came from an Adam Chapman free kick, which appeared to be dipping but eventually sailed over the bar.

Chris Wilder made what turned out to be the vital substitution midway through the second half, with Alfie Potter replacing Daniel Boateng, who had struggled to make an impact on the match. Potter put himself about and was clearly troubling the Swindon defence, but whenever United were able to work themselves into a good position they let themselves down with the final ball. Our best chance again came from a set piece, with Jake Forster-Caskey forcing the Swindon goalkeeper to tip his fiercely struck free kick over the bar.

With the match still scoreless as the final minutes approached, we began to contemplate an unbearable penalty shootout. Then Swindon pushed the self-destruct button. Darren Ward and Aden Flint collided in hilarious fashion, allowing Constable to pinch the ball before playing it through to Alfie Potter who made no mistake from point blank range in front of the East Stand. The Kassam Stadium erupted (except for a small section of the North Stand of course!), Potter was engulfed by his team-mates and all was right with the world.

The Oxford fans went home happy, with another win over Swindon to boast about. If this is indeed Wilder's last match, at least he signed off in style.

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