Saturday 21st January 2012 ko 3.00pm
OXFORD UNITED 2 (Pittman 12 Duberry 68)
HEREFORD UNITED 2 (Duberry 32og 85og)
Att 6,630 (397 away)
Programme (inc Oxford Mail) £3
On arrival at the ground the talk was of one thing and one thing only. Talismanic striker James Constable had been the subject of repeated bids from arch-rivals Swindon Town during the week. A fee had been agreed between the two clubs but then Constable refused to speak to Swindon. In the eyes of Oxford United fans players can do pretty much whatever they like, but the hard and fast rule is simple. You don’t play for Swindon. The local paper ran the headline “Beanomania” and Constable was set to be the talking point of the day. But as usual it didn’t work out that way.
It didn’t take a genius that Hereford would come for a point. Struggling to avoid relegation, it was obvious that they’d metaphorically park the bus in front of the goal. So, when Pittman’s 25 yard strike opened the scoring, you thought that Hereford would be forced out and more goals would come. Constable was straining every sinew to cap an amazing week with a goal, but a mixture of brilliant goalkeeping from Adam Bartlett and a little profligacy kept the score at 1-0. As time drifted on the more nervous the supporters got, and this seemed to infect the team. Things got worse on 32 minutes when a fizzing cross from Joe Colbeck on the right struck Michael Duberry on the left foot and the ball trickled in past a horrified Ryan Clarke.
Debutant forward Oli Johnson was introduced as Oxford went on the attack to find the elusive winner. In a game where they had the vast majority of the possession, on 85 minutes they found themselves chasing an equaliser. Again it was a Colbeck cross, and again it found Duberry. Under pressure at the back post the ball glanced off his head and in.
It’s the mark of a professional and the mark of the man, that for the remainder of the game Duberry was a man on a mission and he didn’t have long to wait for redemption. Substitute Tom Craddock crossed from the right, and supplementary striker Duberry was there to stroke home with his right foot, completing the most unusual hat-trick you’ll ever see. He later pointed out it was the perfect three-timer too. Left foot, right foot and header, just not quite how he’d have wanted to achieve the feat!
There was still time for Constable for stretch to head one last chance, but it was not to be his day, as the ball spun wide. It was almost as he wanted it too much. That I feel could be summary for the whole match, not just the big-hearted striker.