Oxford City (2) 5 Bath City (1) 1 – Monday 30 August 2021 – Vanarama National League South – Marsh Lane
Match Report by Mark Stillman
A second half masterclass from Oxford City blew 10-man Bath City away in a Bank Holiday Monday mauling.
Elliott Frear’s first goal for the stripes opened the scoring, but Harvey Bradbury’s tap-in and Josh Ashby’s cross-shot put the visitors ahead before the interval.
It was one-way traffic after the restart as Dan Matsuzaka and Bradbury heaped more misery on Jerry Gill’s men, who had former Oxford defender Eddie Jones dismissed for two bookable offences.
Substitute Lewis Coyle completed the scoring with two minutes remaining as the hosts picked up their first win of the campaign.
Oxford also went into the game unbeaten after three draws from three, and their intense early pressing gave the Romans food for thought, with Alfie Potter’s angled drive sailing just over the angle of post and crossbar from 18 yards.
Frear’s driving run created an opening for Cooke but the lethal frontman misdirected his header when well placed allowing Zico Asare to clear.
Jacob Bancroft had the Hoops’ first clear opening. Collecting an incisive pass from Ashby, the front man prodded wide of the advancing Ryan Clarke under pressure from the recalled Dan Ball.
Despite the trickery of the home side, City were not overawed and took a 27th minute lead.
Tom Smith’s dangerous ball from the right just evaded Cooke but Frear was on hand to fire back across Ben Dudzinski from six yards to score his first goal since netting for Heart of Midlothian at Alloa in January.
The advantage only lasted six minutes. Potter’s attempted cross was deemed to be handled by Jack Batten on the byline and from Ashby’s teasing free-kick saw Jones inadvertently deflect the ball goalwards with Bradbury nudging it in right on the line.
Oxford’s second on the cusp of half-time involved a double dose of good fortune. Ashby received the ball on the right touchline from Bancroft but appeared to run the ball out of play before his intended cross looped wickedly over the perplexed Clarke and nestled into the far corner.
Ryan Harley’s reverse ball saw Frear’s cross superbly blocked by Asare with Cooke ready to pounce to preserve Oxford’s lead into the break.
The side scoring first in the previous 12 meetings between these sides had failed to win eight of them, going on to lose six. That statistic reared its ugly head again as Oxford went up a few notches in the second half and steamrollered over the beleaguered Romans, who simply capitulated.
Reece Fleet’s goalbound volley was deflected over via the head of Gerring and Matsuzaka wastefully headed the resulting corner off target as David Oldfield’s men flew out the traps.
The onslaught continued. Clarke prevented Bradbury with Batten sliding across to deny Ashby on the rebound. George Harmon’s eventual ball back across goal saw Bancroft swivel and shoot wide from 10 yards when he should have tested the ex-Oxford United stopper.
Former Oxford City players Gerring and Jones received quickfire yellow cards in the Bath backline before a member of Oxford’s extended their lead.
Coyle and Bancroft linked up down the right before the latter’s low cross was slid home by Dan Matsuzaka, already the fourth goal of the season scored by one of their centre-backs.
Striker Bradbury added his second on the hour. Ashby stole in front of Batten, hooked the ball back and the forward was on hand to bundle home from a yard out.
On 67 minutes the visitors were reduced to 10 men. Jones lunged in on Harmon and appeared to win the ball, but referee Alex Blake reached for a second yellow, the third City player he’s dismissed in his last five matches officiating them, with the right back reluctantly trudging off for an early shower.
The Hoops piled on the pressure against a Bath side desperate for the game to end. Bancroft denied Clarke and Bradbury’s audacious chip on the rebound bounced just wide.
Joe Iaciofano replaced the lively Bancroft and proved to be a handful too, creating Oxford’s fifth. Again it was from the byline, a pull back for Coyle who showed neat close control and a tidy finish, dinking over the grounded Clarke.
Fortunately in Bath’s case that was the end of the scoring as Gill will be hoping league leaders Dartford aren’t as lethal on Saturday at Twerton Park.
City Line-Up: Clarke, Ball, Gerring (c), Batten, Fletcher (Holness 65), Cooke, Smith, Frear (Richards 78), Jones, Harley, Francois. Subs not used: Fuller, James, Raynes.
Scorers: City – Frear (28); Oxford – Bradbury (33, 60), Ashby (45), Matsuzaka (56), Coyle (88)
City Bookings: Gerring (52), Jones (53), Ball (84)
City Dismissal: Jones (67)
Officials: A Blake, J Welsh, B White