Senior Cup Final report
United regained the Oxfordshire Senior Cup with a 4-2 win over Oxford City at the Kassam Stadium this evening. Both sides gave their all in a fine game to end the season as goals from Josh Ashby, Ty Marsh, JP Pittman and James Roberts settled a well contested game.
The U’s had a core of youngsters in the side with keeper Max Crocombe, defenders Sam Long and Dave Lynn, midfielder Ashby and wingers Marsh and Callum O’Dowda all youth team products. To augment that youthful promise United gave Scott Davies, Tony Capaldi, Simon Heslop, James Constable and Pittman an outing against a City side who have settled quickly in the Blue Square North this season.
They showed that ability from the very start and might have been in front long before Cook made it 1-0 on 24 minutes. Cook came closest to opening the scoring in the early stages with a 25 yard free kick which clipped the top of the bar after ten minutes, although Constable sent two half chances just wide at the other end soon after. Another United old boy, Chris Willmott, saw a shot well saved by Crocombe on 21 before Cook struck the right hand post with a shot from 15 yards out as United’s defence got into a muddle. Having struck the frame of the goal twice Cook deserved a goal and on 24 got his reward as he tricked his way through, was tripped by Crocombe and picked himself up to slot the penalty home for the first goal of the night.
United almost equalised just before the interval as Pittman’s piledriver was tipped away by keeper Nick Townsend but then came out much brighter in the second half and took just three minutes to get on level terms. O’Dowda, who showed some fine skills on the left, cut inside and blasted a shot which was blocked towards the edge of the area. Ashby, a first year scholar of immense promise, seized on the loose ball and drilled a shot past Nick Townsend to level proceedings.
O’Dowda almost made it 2-1 with a magnificent first touch inside the area to allow him to cut the ball back for captain Constable whose effort span to safety off Willmott but on 65 it was the other wide man who gave the U’s the lead. Pittman held the ball intelligently then squared across the edge of the box. Marsh, coming in from the right fired the ball into the corner of the net with his left foot for a very well taken goal.
It was entertaining stuff and a proper cup tie to end the season for both clubs. On 68 City were level again as Darren Pond slipped the lively Felipe Barcelos in behind the United defence. Long tried to recover but Barcelos held him off and slotted neatly beyond Crocombe to make it 2-2.
City sub Steve Basham knows all about scoring at the Kassam Stadium but could not beat Crocombe from the edge of the area, Barcelos was similarly thwarted with 8 minutes to go, while Pittman saw a low effort tipped away by Townsend as both sides went for the win. Pittman poked a chance wide in the third minute of injury time to leave us with a welcome extra half hour of an enthralling game.
United were back in front six minutes into extra time as Constable flicked a header on for Pittman 30 yards from goal. He burned away from his man, rode a desperate challenge and then finished with ease past the exposed Townsend from 12 yards for a well taken goal to make it 3-2.
With City tiring after a punishing run of games United started to move them around and sub James Roberts, another first year scholar, forced Townsend into a good save just before half time in extra time. The save of the game came from Crocombe though on 108 as he somehow got down to his right to deny Basham whose thunderous volley arrowed towards the bottom left corner.
City pressed but could find no way through and in the very last minute the game was sealed as Roberts twisted past the last man after a tremendous cross from Sam Long then thrashed home to end the game and end the season once and for all.
After a long exhausting season there were plenty of tired legs by the end of extra time: a proper game rather than a friendly finale. In the end it was the yellow side of the city of dreaming spires left to enjoy the celebrations as captain Constable lifted the trophy in front of 900 fans.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels.
Crocombe, Davies, Long, Capaldi, Lynn (Humphreys 77), Marsh, Heslop (Roberts 99), Ashby, O'Dowda, Constable, Pittman