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Match Reports

REPORT: TOWN 1-2 OXFORD UNITED

5 February 2017

Town were unable to hold onto a well-deserved half-time lead after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Oxford United on Derby Day at The County Ground earlier this afternoon. 


The Reds got off to the brighter start and were rewarded just twenty-minutes in courtesy of Fankaty Dabo’s first-ever goal in professional football.


However, Oxford came back fighting after the break and they took the local bragging rights thanks to two goals in quick succession.


Town opted to make two changes to their side with Yaser Kasim and Deadline Day arrival Nicky Ajose both coming into the fold.


Chelsea loanee Islam Feruz missed out while John Goddard dropped to the bench.


Head Coach Luke Williams plumped for a 3-5-2 formation with Ajose partnering Luke Norris up front.


Kasim sat in a deeper role with Ben Gladwin and Charlie Colkett in-front of him, Nathan Thompson, Raphael Rossi-Branco and Lloyd Jones made up the back-three and Fankaty Dabo and James Brophy were selected as the right and left wing-backs respectively.


There was an electric atmosphere being generated by a bumper crowd inside The County Ground with both a huge three points and local pride at stake.


And it was the Reds who flew out of the traps quickest and it took them only a few minutes to register the game’s first chance.


With the Oxford defence all at sea, Luke Norris did well to pick out Nicky Ajose who controlled the ball well before sending his lofted effort over the bar.


United did muster up a response at the other end but they too were off-target as on-loan West Ham United striker Toni Martinez hammered a shot way over.


Town then went close again after hitting their guests on the break with Charlie Colkett charging forward before threading a perfect ball through to Norris, who beat his man before curling over.


Ryan Ledson then had the honour of recording the first effort on target, but his half-volley was easy enough to deal with for Lawrence Vigouroux.


But it wasn’t long before the deadlock was broken and the first goal of Derby Day went the way of Town.


After Oxford failed to clear their lines properly, Ajose had plenty of space and time to whip a low, driven ball across goal and, despite there being no Red shirts inside the penalty area, the ball fell at the feet of Fankaty Dabo who set himself before drilling a brilliant strike into the far corner.


Swindon were in their groove and they attempted to double their lead as James Brophy and Norris combined well, but the latter’s through ball just had too much on it and Yellows’ stopper Simon Eastwood was quick off his line to snuff out the danger.


It wasn’t all one-way traffic though as the visitors tried to flex their attacking muscles, but Liam Sercombe could only warm the palms of Vigouroux from outside the area after beating a couple of defenders.


The former Exeter midfielder was then way off-target with a volley, before Martinez saw his strike drift well wide of the goal.


There was plenty to cheer about for the home crowd and they were on the edge of their seat again as the half-time whistle approached.


Ajose found Yaser Kasim with a sublime ball and the midfielder opted to try his luck, although his effort was well charged down.


That led to an instant Oxford attack but Vigouroux flew off his line to prevent Sercombe from having a clear shot on goal.


Time was ticking away but the Reds so nearly doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time courtesy of Colkett who was played through by Norris, but the midfielder was unable to get the better of Eastwood in the Oxford goal.


It was frantic stuff immediately after the interval as Town looked to add an insurance policy to their lead.


Brophy embarked on a breath-taking run and danced through the Oxford defence, beating four defenders before attempting to squeeze the ball past Eastwood, who was forced into conceding a corner.


The second-half was a scrappy affair and chances were far and far between for both sides, with Town doing well to keep their visitors at bay.


Norris was linking up well with Ajose and he attempted to find his strike-partner, but his pass just had too much on it and Eastwood was out quickly to hack clear.


Ajose then saw his shot on the angle kept out by Eastwood, before Sercombe flashed a diving header wide at the other end.


However, Town were unable to keep their visitors at bay for much longer and the Yellows hauled themselves level just past the 70-minute mark.


Marvin Johnson was allowed plenty of time and space to send a cross into the area and Sercombe was able to tap home unmarked at the back post.


And it got worse for Swindon just minutes later as Rob Hall hammered home from distance to turn the game on its head.


Town made a flurry of subs in order to get themselves back in the contest and they did create chances with Norris testing Eastwood late on.


John Goddard was then brought down inside the area although no penalty was given, before Maguire blasted wide at the other end.


There was to be late drama as well with Lawrence Vigouroux seeing red for a foul on Kane Hemmings, a dismissal that saw Raphael Rossi-Branco don the gloves for the last few minutes although he had little work to do with the full-time whistle being blown shortly after.


TEAMS AND STATS:


SCORERS - Fankaty Dabo (19), Liam Sercombe (70), Rob Hall (73)


TOWN - Vigouroux; Rossi-Branco, Thompson (C), Jones; Dabo, Kasim (Conor Thomas 76), Gladwin (John Goddard 79), Colkett (Jermaine Hylton 83), Brophy; Norris, Ajose.


Subs Not Used - Henry, Conroy, Rodgers, Starkey.


OXFORD UNITED - Eastwood; Edwards, Nelson, Dunkley, Johnson; Hall (Conor McAleny 90), Lundstram (C), Sercombe, Ledson; Maguire, Martinez (Kane Hemmings 79).


Subs Not Used - Skarz, Ruffels, Rothwell, Raglan, Stevens.


Referee - Darren Deadman


BOOKINGS:


TOWN - Luke Norris, Lloyd Jones, Ben Gladwin, James Brophy, Fankaty Dabo.


OXFORD UNITED - Rob Hall, Phil Edwards


SENT-OFF - Lawrence Vigouroux


ATTENDANCE - 10,658


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