Early lead to no avail as Oxford City take control
Oxford United were well beaten by neighbours Oxford City at Court Place Farm this evening, going down 5-1 despite taking an early lead through an Asa Hall penalty after Callum O'Dowda was brought down. City's fightback was led by Albi Skendi who scored twice and created another in a first half display of clinical finishing by the home side. A fifth goal in the second half completed the scoring as the U's were well beaten.
United sent a team that combined experience and youth to their annual pre-season friendly at Court Place Farm this evening. Starting with Max Crocombe in goal, the defence comprised Matt Bevans, Michael Raynes, Kenzer Lee and David Lynn. In midfield, Asa Hall and Jonathan Meades were flanked by Scott Davies and Callum O’Dowda, while James Constable and Tyrone Marsh were the front pairing. City’s line-up included the familiar faces of Chris Willmott, Steve Basham, Declan Benjamin and new signing Tom Winters.
Following a kick-off delayed for 15 minutes due to crowd congestion, United were awarded a penalty in the second minute when Callum O’Dowda was tripped by James Clifton as the young winger ran into the City penalty area. Up stepped Asa Hall to convert his second penalty of pre-season and give the U’s an early lead.
United came close to doubling their advantage in the eighth minute when a long throw from Scott Davies was allowed to bounce through to James Constable at the far post, but his spectacular scissors kick was straight at keeper Mark Scott. Davies was looking very lively on the right wing, while O’Dowda on the opposite flank was full of running and clever flicks.
United were stuck a blow midway through the first half when David Lynn went down clutching his back and he had to be replaced by Josh Ruffels, a trialist previously with Coventry City. Five minutes later Albi Skendi made the most of Lynn’s absence when he cut inside, drew Crocombe and lifted the ball past the stranded keeper to equalize.
United tried to hit back straight away through a Davies free-kick which beat the City wall but was straight at Scott. Marsh was then on the end of a Ruffels cross but he was unable to keep his header down as the U’s turned the screw on their neighbours.
It was to no avail though, as Skendi was heavily involved in City’s second goal, setting former United youth-teamer Declan Benjamin clear to give the Hoops the lead. A minute later and it was 3-1 to the home side as Benjamin’s cross was grasped by Crocombe but the ball ran free to Skendi who prodded home despite the protests of the United players.
It was 4-1 to the hosts five minutes before the break when a loose ball fell to another former United player, Tom Winters, who was in the right place to hit a sweet first-time volley past Crocombe. It wasn’t even half-time and the game was beyond United.
United came out unchanged for the second half, which was a much less open affair. While City made numerous changes, United looked for a way back into the game. Hall went close with a rasping volley from the edge of the penalty area and Bevans had a looping shot go narrowly over but with City dropping ever deeper the chances were few and far between.
With United pushing forward they were always susceptible to being caught on the counter, and so it proved in the 76th minute when Will Green burst clear and smashed a shot past the helpless Crocombe. 5-1 and the bragging rights were clearly with the blue half of the city.
United: Crocombe, Bevans, Raynes, Lee, Lynn (Ruffels 21), Davies, Hall, Meades, O'Dowda (Shama 86), Constable, Marsh
snused Subs: Cavanagh, Ekpiteta, Martin, Humphreys, Roberts, Ashby