City suffered back to back defeats for the first time under Gary Caldwell, as a strong Oxford United side beat a lacklustre City 4-1 in Oxfordshire.
A goal early on from Matty Taylor and then three goals in the final ten minutes from Billy Bodin and Cameron Brannagan led to an emphatic 4-1 loss in the second round of the FA Cup for The Grecians, with Oxford venturing into the third round.
Back to FA Cup action after the crazy last-minute win over Port Vale in the first round, City were welcomed to a gloomy Kassam Stadium by Oxford United. Gary made two changes to the team who lost at home to Ipswich in the previous game with Cheick Diabate and Sam Nombe coming in to the starting XI to replace Harry Kite and Jay Stansfield.
An early chance for Oxford United in the fourth minute saw Djavan Anderson in behind Jack Sparkes on the right-hand side but his effort across the six-yard box only found the returning Diabate who cleared away the trouble.
Straight down the other end came a City attack, spearheaded by none other than Josh Key, who found himself in a much more attacking position than usual. After some lovely play by Key, the ball found its way to Jake Caprice, but his effort wasn’t enough to cause Ed McGinty any trouble.
After some end-to-end football, Oxford were able to open the scoring in the eighth minute with Matty Taylor latching onto an uncharacteristic lapse of judgement from Diabate to slot the ball past an on-rushing Jamal Blackman from 25 yards out.
With just over 20 minutes played, City were really starting to feel the attacking pressure from Oxford with the combination of Taylor, Jones and Browne linking up well between the city defence and midfield. All of that pressure led to Alex Hartridge finding his way into the book after upending Browne on the edge of the City penalty area.
Following Hartridge into the book 15 minutes later was Sparkes who lazily kicked out at an Oxford player on the halfway line, the referee played advantage but came back to take Sparkes name only a few moments later. That was two defenders in the book before half time.
With less than five minutes left to play in the first half Blackman made an incredible triple save to keep the score at 1-0 to the hosts. City very much under pressure but thanks to the excellence of Blackman they only went in 1-0 down.
Coming out for the second half, Gary decided to make only the one change with Jack Sparkes making way to be replaced by Jay Stansfield. That change led to a move around in position with Key moving back to right wing back and Stansfield taking up his natural attacking position.
City’s first big chance of the game came in the 52nd minute with the newly introduced Stansfield picking up the ball on the edge of the area. With his back to goal, he span 90 degrees and let loose, but his shot which looked destined to nestle in the top right-hand corner went just wide.
With Oxford in the lead, Karl Robinson decided to make a triple change on the 60th minute with Tyler Goodrham, Lewis Bate and Sam Long called into the game in place of Jodi Jones, James Henry and Djavan Anderson.
A flurry of corners around the 70th minute mark for City kept the ball in and around the Oxford penalty area for quite a few minutes. After the third corner Oxford were able to hit City on the counterattack, Key took it upon himself to stop said counterattack with a rugby like challenge, in doing so earning himself a yellow card, taking City’s tally to three for the game.
Key with 13 minutes left to play almost made it 1-1 with a dolphin like diving header after a peach of a cross from Caprice found him waiting at the back post, but McGinty matched Key's strike with a fantastic blocking save.
Straight from Key's effort came Oxford’s second of the game, a well-timed ball across the box eventually found its way to Billy Bodin at the far post who slotted the ball into an empty net. Only moments later and with Oxford still celebrating their second, the home side made it 3-0 with Cameron Brannagan getting in on the act.
The goals kept coming. Only three minutes after their third, Oxford made it four with Bodin getting his second making it 4-0 to the home side. From the next kick off, City were able to grab a consolation goal with Jay finding the back of the net, Caprice's cross into the box led to the forward touching the ball past McGinty in the Oxford goal.
The next game for The Grecians is a long away trip to Morecambe on Friday 2nd December.
City: Blackman, Caprice, Sweeney, Diabate (Chauke), (Hartridge) Grounds, Sparkes (Stansfield), Dieng, Collins, Key, Brown, Nombe (Jay)
Subs not used: Sowden, Harper, Kite, Beardsmore
Oxford: Mcginty, Findlay, Moore, Brannagan, Taylor, Browne, Jones Brown, Henry, Mcguane, Anderson
Subs not used: Eastwood, Long, Gorrin , Golding, Seddon
Referee: Will Finnie
Attendance: 3599 (427 away)