Wednesday 6th February 2013 ko 19.30
Oxfordshire Senior Cup Quarter-Final
OXFORD UNITED 1 (Smalley 69p)
When you follow a League club, County Cup competitions tend to pass you by. That’s particularly the case in Oxfordshire, where there’s only one League Club, and some of the larger Non-League clubs are in the Berks and Bucks FA, as in this part of the world, football still follows pre-1974 county boundaries. Theoretically the ties still take precedence over league fixtures but the larger clubs have long since negotiated to play reserve teams, and away from any fixture clash.
There’s plenty of history with United and this competition, Headington losing to Culham in the 1902 final at the then home of Oxford City, The Whitehouse Ground. As United grew in stature, gradually the interest waned, and during the 1990’s didn’t bother entering. For this season, with no reserve team, the competition is a handy way of giving a game to fringe first-teamers, and youth team players a taste of adult competition.
Much as though I like Thame United’s new ground its north-south aspect does mean the wind does blow across it. It was a bleak night and there seemed to be nowhere to escape the cutting wind. Whilst the temperature was above zero, I felt colder than I’d felt at St Truiden last year.
By Oxford United standards a strong side was put out featuring 6 players with first team experience, including a welcome return for Andy Whing, who played a planned first half only. He was replaced by James Roberts, whose goal-scoring exploits for the youth team have been noted by all that matter.
It produced an interesting forward line with the unfortunate Deane Smalley, whose stay at the club has been blighted by poor form and injury. He can’t buy a goal, while young Roberts can’t stop scoring. Smalley looked as listless as ever in the cold, while it was Roberts who was tripped by Steve Newell, to give Smalley his goal- from the penalty spot.
It speaks volumes for the visitors from Division One East of the Hellenic League that the man-of-the-match was goalkeeper Ben Thornton; his save from Simon Heslop was worthy of a far higher attendance.