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Tuesday 8th October 2013 ko 19.45

Football League Trophy Southern Section 2nd Round

OXFORD UNITED 1 (Constable 89)

PORTSMOUTH 2 (Agyemang 66 Marquis 82)

Att 3,697 (1,132 away)

Entry £10

Programme £2 (reduced size, fold out) inc’ Oxford Mail

It has to be said that the Portsmouth support for this fixture was astounding, I did start to worry that the away fans would outnumber the home support! I remember Oxford United doing that to St Albans City during OUFC’s first season in the Conference.

The Football League’s competition for the bottom two divisions does at times struggle to enthuse either clubs or their supporters, to the extent that a rule has been put in place preventing managers making more than 5 changes to the their team’s line-up. Oxford pushed that rule to the limit, whilst Pompey preferred to make only 3 changes perhaps influenced by the injury to former OUFC forward Tom Craddock.

I looked up Rope-a-Dope in the dictionary when I got home after the game. The definition of,

“A method of tiring out a boxing opponent by pretending to be trapped on the ropes while the opponent expends energy on punches that are blocked,”

seemed a reasonable analogy as to what happened. Portsmouth barely had a shot for the first hour, as Oxford dominated possession, but that possession added up to far too little in the way of goalscoring chances. You waited for the sting in the tail, and that happened with a Portsmouth substitution.

Patrick Agyemang replaced Roman Padovani and it took him a mere 7 minutes to break the deadlock, arrowing a good shot past Ryan Clarke in the home goal. It showed United what they’d failed to do previously- and play passing, but direct football.

John Marquis’ header from Yassin Moutaoukil’s cross was a good goal made to look better by poor defending, which made James Constable’s late goal mere consolation.

It’s hard to worry too much about the Football League Trophy, the second round is far too early for dreams of Wembley. Three home defeats on the bounce is cause for concern, and Chris Wilder’s body language at the death spoke volumes. Saturday’s game at home to Northampton will be interesting for all the wrong reasons.