U's edge out North Leigh to reach finalA thoroughly entertaining Oxfordshire Senior Cup semi-final ended with Oxford United going through by the closest of margins against North Leigh at Court Place Farm tonight. An own goal from Sam Elkins sent the U's through against a battling North Leigh side reduced to ten men for much of the second half after Elliott Osborne-Ricketts' red card.
In their red and black kit the U’s set the tempo from the very start and a slick move in the third minute ended with the dangerous James Roberts thumping in a volley from the edge of the box that impressive keeper James Foster was grateful wasn’t a yard further away from him.
Jack Stevens made a better save as he somehow tipped away a Lance Williams header on six minutes before former United youth team keeper Foster got down well to palm another effort from Roberts away.
The game then settled down before Jonny Giles once again tested Foster with a 20 yard effort that was destined for the top corner until the tip of Foster’s fingers took it over the bar. In between those efforts at goal there was plenty of competitive football with three yellow cards in the first half (two for the U’s) and a string of stern challenges in the centre of the park.
Youth team top scorer George Jeacock had one final effort with a low shot that Foster blocked at his near post but it was a striker at the other end of his career, Jamie Cook, who rolled back the years by beating Robbie Cundy with a superb turn early in the second half that led to a free kick from which Stuart Hole whipped his shot against the bar.
It was proper cup football but that competitive edge spilled over after 55 minutes when Osborne-Ricketts flew into a fierce challenge on Giles that led to a red card, and that proved to be the key moment as United made the extra man tell.
Roberts was denied by an astonishing save from Foster but then on 61 minutes the goal that United had been threatening finally came. Jeacock was the key man when he floated in from the left and looked to send the ball towards the far post. Elkins had other ideas and tried to block but the ball flew off his body and past the flat-footed Foster for the opener.
North Leigh continued to fight hard and cause problems but Roberts and Jeacock both fired over the bar from good positions and United's youngsters had deserved to make progress. They go on to face either Oxford City or Kidlington in the final.
Stevens, Welch-Hayes, Carroll, Cundy, Grant, George, Jeacock, Ashby, Humphries, Giles, Roberts
Subs: Agboola, McCormack, Ricketts, Hayden, Hastings