Tuesday 18th December 2012 ko 19.45
FA Cup 2nd Round Replay
OXFORD UNITED 2 (Constable 66 Leven 80)
ACCRINGTON STANLEY 0
Att 2,566 (48 away)
Programme £2 (Reduced size, reissued from postponed fixture 6 days earlier)
Accrington Stanley must be sick of the sight of Oxford United. As if being replaced by Oxford in the league in 1962 wasn’t bad enough (although they replaced OUFC 44 years later!), this makes a rtun of 7 games against the two sides where the Lancastrians have failed to register a win. They came mighty close in the first attempt to settle this tie, with United equalising through the unlikely figure of Michael Raynes with seconds remaining.
Now, Accrington to Oxford on a cold Tuesday is a big ask of any fan, so perhaps charging full price was a mistake, but I was shocked when I heard from the press area that the visitors had sold a mere SIX tickets in advance of the game. And while more Stanley fans did show up the attendance in general was pitiful for what is meant to be the world’s greatest knock-out competition. The cold truth was that for the majority of the game, those who opted to seek entertainment elsewhere made the correct decision.
The club blamed it all on the pitch, some of the fans laid the blame at OUFC manager Chris Wilder, but this was a poor game that looked exactly what it was, two lower level fourth tier clubs slugging it out for the opportunity to host Sheffield United. Neither side seemed to have the whit to get the best out of their flair players, winger Alfie Potter for Oxford, and former Southampton forward James Beattie for Stanley. Add to that some “Robust” challenges both on and off the ball from the visitors, and I’m sure I was not the only one present dreading the idea of having to sit through another 30 minutes of this fixture.
Thankfully the deadlook was broken, and it was by a near facsimile of the goal tghat opened the scoring in the first round fixture at Barnet. A Peter Leven inswinging corner was perfectly placed for James Constable to head home at close range. And other than a backpedalling Ryan Clarke coming close to carrying the ball over his own line, Stanley had little else to add to the plot. The second goal saw the one moment of real class, Constable squaring the ball back to Leven for the Scot to hammer home a peach of a volley from 20 yards. It’s clear that Leven is still nowhere near being fully match fit, but at least there was a glimpse of his capabilities, and the busy Christmas programme may well help his fight for fitness.
Speaking of fight for fitness, that’s a hashtag used on Twitter by defender Michael Duberry as he’s recovered from a neck operation. With the game already won, Duberry was introduced for injury time, in would you believe central midfield. The enjoyment on the big defender’s face was there for all to see.