Midfielder Ivo Pekalski continued his return from injury this evening, but in a losing cause as a young United side went out of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup with a 1-0 defeat at Oxford City.
United mixed four senior players in Pekalski, Josh Ashby, Canice Carroll and Malachi Napa with second years scholars: Niall Clayton behind a back line of Dan Carr, Carroll, Matt Berry-Hargreaves and Graham Bryan, with Ashby and Pekalski joined by Aaron Heap, Albie Hopkins and Napa in midfield and Dejon Noel-Williams playing as a target man.
Against a full strength City side who are in good form in the National League South, it was a good test for the U’s and the two sides cancelled each other out in a well-matched first half, with just a couple of shots from Heap and Napa at one end and a rising effort from Godfrey Poku going close to the United goal before the break.
Pekalski looked neat and tidy in a holding role, rarely wasting a pass during his 70 minutes, allowing Ashby to try and pick a way through the City defence. Napa's pace and more direct style caught the eye slightly more but City keeper Craig King remained largely untroubled for the whole 90 minutes.
The game opened up after the hour, with former United trialist Paterson dragging an effort wide on 66 before finding the winner on 71 with a low drive from 25 yards that flew past Clayton and into the bottom left corner of the net.
Clayton tipped a similar effort from Paterson round the post a minute or two later and then made the save of the night to push a good effort from Sam Nombe over the bar as City tried to kill off the semi-final.
Sub Owen James had an 86th minute drive saved by King and nodded an injury-time header wide when unmarked but there was to be no late equaliser despite late urgency, leaving City to face either Banbury United or Kidlington in the final.
Clayton, Carr, Carroll, Berry-Hargreaves, Bryan, Hopkins, Pekalski (Cowan 72), Ashby, Heap (James 65), Napa, Noel-Williams