Nomads Drop Points As Shortwood Close The Gap
With a gusting wind and a damp pitch Nomads looked to bounce back from the cup defeat on Saturday and claim an important Bank Holiday victory.
The first five minutes saw both sides battling hard to break free of a packed midfield with Slimbridge clearly intent on ensuring the home side were given little time on the ball to build up any sort of rhythm.
Mark Bell was the first to find some space and a jinking run drew a foul on the left. Bell took the free kick himself and visiting keeper Dave Evans touched his far-post chip behind for an unproductive corner.
The visitors’ first serious attack came on ten minutes as a through-pass set Ross Langworthy on his way in the right-hand channel and Alan Foster did well to save with his feet.
There was little of note in either box for much of the first quarter, though Foster had to spread himself to deny Langworthy near his left-hand post, and Nomads had their best chance so far as Jemaine Ferreira outpaced the Slimbridge defence to get to the bye-line and pull the ball back invitingly for Pablo Haysham to side-foot his finish inches wide of Evans’s post.
The home side continued to have greater possession but Slimbridge gave them little room to manoeuvre, often with ten men behind the ball, and broke quickly when the opportunity arose.
Bell’s flag-kick to the far post after Adam Morris’s shot had been bundled behind was hit wide by Haysham; Albi Skendi’s hopeful shot from outside the box was at a comfortable height for Evans; and as Ferreira’s chipped centre from the right looped into the box Haysham did well to get up in a crowd of yellow shirts but headed high of the target.
For the visitors Langworthy produced another couple of runs which petered out near the goal-line, but a positive outcome looked a distinct possibility as Marvyn Roberts bustled his way through, and it required the combined defensive efforts of Kamran Abbasi and Joel Meade to shepherd him off course.
HALF-TIME: Oxford City Nomads 0-0 Slimbridge
The second period unfolded in much the same fashion as the first with Nomads finding themselves faced with a yellow wall at every turn, and the visitors prepared to break at pace if offered the chance.
Fred Ward, who possibly put in more tackles than anyone else during the afternoon, delivered a long free kick into the box which caused problems as it reared awkwardly in front of Foster before eventually being cleared, while, for Nomads, Ferreira was just beaten to a through-ball by the horizontal Evans as he popped up behind the defence.
Slimbridge should have broken the deadlock on the hour as substitute Alex Higgs raced away from the Nomads’ defence on the left and squared for the unattended Roberts, but the striker somehow failed to collect the ball and it ran on to relative safety. And moments later there was another worrying moment for the home side as Will Wellon took a break from his defensive duties and forged forward to fire a shot very near the mark.
A packed and well-drilled defence meant Nomads rarely got a sight of Evans and, if they did get in behind the defenders on the flanks, cover was quick to appear and the keeper dealt very competently with such crosses as were delivered.
Josias Carbon’s one-two with Ferreira got him close to goal but his cut-back was scrambled clear; Conor McDonagh’s free kick was touched behind by Evans; and Bell’s curling centre faded just beyond the attackers’ heads and the far post. Nomads’ best chance, though still by no means a clear-cut one, came on 76 minutes as Carbon won the ball in the Slimbridge box and fed Adam Morris near the edge of the area. Just for a moment there was daylight ahead of the midfielder before the defence descended but the bouncing ball arrived quickly and his shot skipped inches wide of the post.
Another Ward free kick needed a hefty punch from Foster to clear the lines, and two corners in rapid succession (from the busy Ward) had the Nomads’ defence on its toes.
With just under ten minutes left Slimbridge came close to a goal as Higgs hooked in a high ball that bounced and spun trickily beyond Foster, but Meade, fortunately unchallenged, was on hand to head clear of the unguarded goal.
Even so, Nomads might have snatched an unlikely victory at the death. Kynan Isaac cutting in from the right was fouled twenty-five yards out and James Dobson, on for Haysham, hit a terrific free kick around the wall, beyond Evans’s fingertips…and against the bar. The massed defence quickly cleared the ball and moments later Mr Tobin called time.
OXFORD CITY NOMADS: Foster, Carbon, Isaac, Meade, Abbasi, Skendi, Ferreira, Morris, McDonagh, Haysham (Dobson 65), Bell (McEachran 85).