Oxford United 4 Scunthorpe United 1
Oxford United moved into the quarter finals of the Checkatrade Trophy with an excellent 4-1 win over Scunthorpe United this evening. A hat trick from Kane Hemmings and a marvellous strike from Marvin Johnson eased United through to the last eight despite Luke Williams giving the visitors an early lead.
Both sides made changes to the line up - five for the U’s, six for the Iron - and the U's were made to do it the hard way as the visitors settled quickest. Centre-half Charlie Goode hooked the first chance of the night against the bar after just seven minutes but United’s reprieve was brief because a minute later Williams was fouled by Liam Sercombe and picked himself up to slot home the penalty, despite Simon Eastwood getting a glove to it.
Eastwood then made a good save from Dwayne Holmes as he stole in behind the defence but having been put under the hammer by Holmes, United started to fight their way back into the game. A surging run by Joe Rothwell lifted things and then on 19 they were level as Johnson scored a trademark goal by flying down the left wing at great pace but still having the composure to look up and strike a very well-placed shot across goal and inside the far post, giving keeper Joe Anyon no chance and making it 1-1.
Three minutes later and United were in front. Jordan Clarke looked to have recovered well to block Johnson this time but the ball was only cleared as far as Rothwell, who sold an outrageous dummy then darted into the area. From a tight angle he chose to cross low to the near post where Hemmings nipped in front of his man to apply a characteristically cool finish and make it ten goals for the season for the U’s.
Anyon made a flying save to deny Rothwell after half an hour and the game was bright and open with both sides lively in attack and skillful on the ball. Craig Davies, back at the U’s after making his senior debut for them as a youngster, wasted two good chances before half time when his timing failed him in front of goal and skipper Murray Wallace had a header cleared off the line by the alert Josh Ruffels on 45 before Williams planted one last chance into the empty seats behind Eastwood’s goal as we reached half time at 2-1.
Those missed chances proved costly and five minutes into the second half Hemmings doubled his tally and made it 3-1 from the spot. Rob Hall, a constant nuisance on the wing, went past Levi Sutton who brought him crashing down and left ref Gavin Ward with an easy decision to award a penalty. Anyon got a hand to it but the spot kick was too powerful and United had a two-goal cushion.
Scunthorpe continued to play nice football but couldn't find a way past a solid United back line where Joe Skarz returned at centre half. Further forward Liam Sercombe made his first start after injury, almost marking it with a goal after tricking his way past three men but seeing his rising shot tipped over by the flying Anyon.
Hemmings was kept out by the excellent Anyon once more, getting down low to save to his right on 82, but was not to be denied and in injury time drifted past his man to force home a Chris Maguire cross to complete his hat trick and move United within two games of Wembley.
A good win that keeps their excellent run going, and with several players furthering their claims for places and Hemmings moving into double figures in emphatic style, this was another good night's work for the U's.
We move on to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday. See you there.
Fifty 50 winning number 508723 wins £258
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels, stats by OPTA
See extended highlights and video reaction in Yellow Player HD