Oxford United made it through to the next round of the Checkatrade Trophy at Southend tonight. Chris Maguire
's perfectly placed dead-ball from 30 yards out looked to have seen them home in normal time but an Anthony Wordsworth equaliser on 86 minutes forced the U's into their third penalty shoot-out of the competition, with Tyler Roberts
holding his nerve to send the U's through.
, starting up front alongside Kane Hemmings
, had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring after six minutes when Hemmings' persistence allowed him to square the ball for his strike partner in space near the penalty spot. His left-footed effort was well struck but too close to home keeper Mark Oxley, who got down well to save but should by rights have been given no chance.
Ryan Leonard had already headed wide by that stage at the other end but most of the attacking intent in the first 20 minutes was from the men in all yellow, Chris Maguire
and Rob Hall
both firing in shots from distance and Marvin Johnson
getting forward well from left back.
Back came Southend to cause most of the problems in the second quarter of the match. A beautifully weighted cross from Simon Cox on 26 was inches away from Stephen McLaughlin at the back post and the same player had a low shot saved by Eastwood on 32 before Anthony Wordsworth's 20-yard effort drew a save at full stretch from Eastwood. Taylor did much better on 41 with a rasping drive from 25 yards that Oxley did well to palm to safety but we reached half time scoreless.
Wordsworth's bouncing effort glanced the post just 45 seconds into the second 45 minutes but Phil Edwards
was almost as close three minutes later with a wonderful curling effort that whistled maybe a yard outside the post, with Oxley left to watch and hope. Maguire then showed great technique to smash a volley at goal from the edge of the box which Oxley saved again, and the game opened up as both sides left gaps to try and force the issue rather than wait for the lottery of penalties.
McLaughlin might have done better when he burst into the box on 72 but couldn't get round the fast-closing Eastwood but United had defended well and the pairing of Curtis Nelson
and Aaron Martin
had looked very solid.
It was going to take a moment of magic to find a breakthrough and on 81 it came from Maguire with a peach of a free kick. Leonard brought the Scottish forward down fully 30 yards from goal. At that range it is often hit and hope but not when Maguire steps up. The strike was clean and deadly and Oxley could only admire it as it nestled into the right-hand corner of the net.
Surely United were through?
Roots Hall is not a happy hunting ground for them though and back came Southend to force penalties. Sub Marc-Antoine Fortune paved the way with a powerful run on the left that took him to the by-line. His low cross flashed almost across the goal line and Wordsworth was all alone a yard from goal to smash home and force penalties.
Eastwood saved Cox's first effort, Maguire scored 0-1
Demetriou scored, Hemmings buried his. 1-2
Wordsworth tucked his away, Edwards thumped home 2-3
Leonard scored, Johnson had his saved 3-3
McLaughlin blazed over, Roberts scored 3-4 and through
Great nerve from the young man and after three shoot-outs United make it to the last 16.
Report by Chris Williams, Stats by Opta
See reaction from the key men in Yellow Player HD