United squeeze through the gate up north – ‘The View from the Pub’.

Article by Jack Shoemark Friday, December 6th, 2013  

In a unique twist to the usual style of reporting brought to you by Rage Online, I found myself on the end of a frantic George Dugdale (RO editor and very late running BT Sport employee) request for a report for the game as he found himself in the back of a car around the Nottingham area en-route to Gateshead at 17:00. I was always heading to the pub to watch the U’s and when asked to produce a report was more than happy to oblige. So here we go…Gateshead v Oxford United – ‘The View from the Pub’.

On the way to the pub, it was announced that Michael Raynes and Johnny Mullins would both be absent from the United line-up due to knocks sustained at some point between kicking off at Fleetwood and arriving in Gateshead. This meant debuts for development squad full-backs Matty Bevans and Dave Lynn, whilst Tom Newey and David Hunt shifted into the centre of defence to fill the void left by Raynes and Mullins. Elsewhere, it was the same line-up as Fleetwood but Scott Davies replaced the ineligible Asa Hall. A very very young United bench was joined by Deane Smalley on his return from injury.

So a United squad of 9 senior pros and 9 development squad set about the task of defeating an in-form Gateshead side on their own patch. It was the home side who had the first half chance with Josh Walker firing wildly over from the edge of the box after 5 minutes. Scott Davies produced a carbon copy at the other end of the pitch as the opening exchanges of the game proved to be rather scrappy. Dave Kitson lookalike James Curtis headed straight at Ryan Clarke from a ‘Heed’ corner in the 20th minute before a sustained period of Gateshead possession as United’s midfield struggled to get a foothold in the game.

Ryan Williams almost capitalised on a loose Adam Bartlett clearance on the half hour but couldn’t prod the ball past the grounded keeper.  Young full-backs Bevans and Lynn were settling well into the new look back four whilst Josh Ruffles was providing a useful outlet down the left hand side. Kitson and Constable were being their usual physical selves with Kitson earning more than one talking to from referee Tierney.  The half ended without any major events at either end and the view from the pub around me was one of disappointment after I had built up the game pre kick-off.

Chris Wilder’s men started the second half much more brightly with Danny Rose pulling the strings in midfield. Williams saw an effort cleared off the line from an early corner. James Constable saw a shot from the end of the area well blocked by Kitson, I mean Curtis. Gateshead first dangerous effort came after 55 minutes with a free-kick on the edge of the area after a foul by Newey. “No way was that a foul” were the cries of all three of us watching the game. The free kick from Lewis Sirrell was blocked and the immediate danger was over. It was the home side who had the next chance, James Marwood who scored a wonder goal in the original game, saw his shot pushed behind by Ryan Clarke.

That man Marwood was booked after a number of fouls, the last being on Williams as he tried to break away on the right hand side. Deane Smalley replaced Scott Davies in the 67th minute in a move that saw Josh Ruffels moved into a central position. At this point, the soundtrack in the pub moved onto S Club 7 – their music reminds me of away days at Middlesbrough and West Brom – a reflection point for all Oxford United fans. At this point a local announced that “non-league football is really bad” and I couldn’t even muster the energy to put him right as it wasn’t the world’s most entertaining spectacle.

Matt Bevans saw a shot held by Bartlett before blocking bravely from Oster at the other end. Marwood hit a shot into the ground that Clarke gathered comfortably before the referee brought the 90 minutes to an end much to the relief of those accompanying me.

The first half of extra time started with Dave Kitson producing a piece of magic, but unfortunately it came to nothing. Josh Walker again fired wide moments later before Ryan Williams forced a diving save from Bartlett. Sam Long was introduced in the place of Danny Rose who worryingly limped off on 98 minutes. The home side thought they had taken the lead when Colin Larkin slotted home after a cross from the left but the linesman’s flag rescued United.

Tyrone Marsh replaced Dave Kitson at half time in extra time as the big man looked out on his feet. This meant United had five of their development squad on the pitch. If I’m honest, the whole game was overshadowed by the breaking news of the death of Nelson Mandela and the remaining minutes passed by without much attention. Marwood hit the post with just 5 minutes remaining after a sustained period of Gateshead pressure. But it was United who made the first and final breakthrough, Ryan Williams was brought down (sort of) by Curtis and it was left to Deane Smalley to slot home the penalty to seal a brave, battling performance from a young United side.

Chris Wilder may or may not be in charge of the 2nd round tie v Wrexham on Monday night but for the 98 Oxford fans who travelled to Gateshead – his side put in a determined effort and nicked a 1-0 victory that many Oxford United sides would not have done in previous years.

FA Cup 2nd Round v Wrexham, live on BT Sport on Monday night. I’ll be back in the pub. Will you?

Gateshead 0-1 Oxford United

Attendance: 2632 (98 Oxford)

This entry was posted on Friday, December 6th, 2013 at 10:47 am and appears under 2013, Match Report, News Items. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

© Rage Online 1998 - 2018 All rights reserved. If you want to copy stuff, please quote the source

another fine mash from ox4encoding