Smith strike downs Oxford and secures play-off place

A single goal from Tom Smith on the hour mark was enough to edge City past Oxford City this afternoon at Twerton Park and secure a place in the Vanarama National League South play-offs. In a largely even game with the mid-table visitors Smith’s shot into the roof of the net from Ryan Brunt’s cross turned out to be the decisive moment as City withstood several nervous moments in the closing stages. The first half saw both sides pass the ball around well but sights of goal were few and far between. James Morton’s 25-yard free-kick gave Oxford keeper King little trouble on 28 minutes then Ryan Clarke had to be alert to keep out Fasanmade’s low drive. As half-time approached City enjoyed their best spell of the game and the first real close call for either side when Freddie Hinds’ curling shot crashed against the post. The second half followed a similar pattern, Clarke denying Thomas-Asante four minutes before Smith struck. City pressed for a second goal but when this didn’t come it led to a tense final fifteen minutes for the majority of the 1164 crowd. Despite the heat and with little to play for Oxford kept pushing forward, Clarke denying Self and Thomas-Asante, then in stoppage time Oastler fired a shot inches wide of the post. This turned out to be the final scare for the Romans and a minute later the final whistle confirmed their play-off place. They travel to Billericay Town next week knowing a win is still required to guarantee a home game in the first stage of the battle for a place in the Vanarama National League but it was job done today by Jerry Gill and his players.