United go out of the Senior Cup
United bowed out of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup 3-2 at the hands of North Leigh this evening in an entertaining game at Banbury United. An early goal from Josh Shama and an Elliot Osborne-Ricketts own goal helped the U's to a 2-1 half time lead but two second half goals gave North Leigh the win and the chance to face Banbury in the final.
The U's fielded a youthful team, with Freddie Grant and Jon Meades in the full-back positions and Sam Long partnering Chey Dunkley in front of first-year scholar Jack Stevens. Aidan Hawtin and Sam Humphreys were on the wings, wide of Josh Ashby and AJ George, while Shama partnered James Roberts up front.
United showed their intent in the very first minute when Grant got down the right and his cross was met by Shama, whose flying header flew just wide and in the 14th minute Roberts shot into the side netting. It wasn’t all one-way traffic though and two minutes later Kieran Sanders missed a great opportunity to put North Leigh ahead when a low free kick came his way but he was unable to connect just two yards from the goal line.
In the 20th minute United did take the lead from a short corner between Ashby and Humphreys. The North Leigh keeper Matt Bullman made a reflex save from a close-range shot but Shama was on hand to slam the ball into the net to make it 1-0.
It could have been two just three minutes later when Shama raced clear down the right and pulled the ball back for the on-rushing Hawtin, but Bullman again pulled off an excellent save to keep his side in the game. North Leigh had matched the U's though and drew level in the 29th minute following an excellent exchange on the edge of the area, with the ball falling to Michael Hopkins, who beat Stevens with a fine drive from 10 yards.
Parity lasted until the 37th minute when Elliot Osborne-Ricketts, brother of the United women’s captain Sahara, intercepted a pass from Hawtin to Shama, 20 yards out, but he could only poke the ball past a despairing Bullman to restore Oxford’s lead.
The U's had benefited from a strong wind at their backs in the first half but North Leigh took full advantage of it in the second half.There seemed little danger when Sanders picked up the ball on the hour but his powerful drive beat Stevens from 20 yards.
It was 3-2 to the West Oxfordshire side just four minutes later as a Morgan Williams corner caught the wind and sailed over Stevens and straight into the net. In the 67th minute it looked like Williams had repeated the feat, but the referee ruled out the effort for a foul on Stevens, who then saved well from Osborne-Ricketts as North Leigh piled on the pressure.
The young U's responded and threw men forward in a frantic last five minutes but North Leigh defended stoutly and celebrated wildly as they claimed a famous victory and marched through to face Banbury in the final
United: Stevens, Grant, Long, Dunkley, Meades, A Hawtin, Ashby, George (Welch-Hayes), Humphreys (Graham 88), Roberts, Shama (Jeacock)
Subs not used: Ricketts, Diaz-Benitez