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Bird’s flapped clearance costs Slough Town second defeat against Oxford City

Bird’s flapped clearance costs Slough Town second defeat against Oxford City

Jon Underwood

Slough Town’s run of five games unbeaten came to a frustrating end against Oxford City on Saturday with a 1-0 defeat at Arbour Park.

An own goal inside the first half from Ryan Bird was enough to separate the two sides at the blow of the final whistle, with Oxford able to secure their second win of the season over the Rebels.

Justin Merritt’s visitors had created few chances up to that point but held onto their advantage with some resolute defending for a hard fought victory.

On home turf the Rebels dominated possession bur rarely tested ‘keeper Craig King and were forced to rely on set pieces to overcome the afternoon’s blustery and breezy conditions.

Max Worsfold’s corner kick in the fourth minute was met well by Lee Togwell but the midfielder could only glance his header wide. Worsfold then had another opportunity to assist three minutes later when he sent a whipped free kick into the box but King was off his line to catch the ball with ease.

The Rebels enjoyed the majority of possession in the early stages but struggled with converting it into goals. With quarter of an hour gone, Lee Togwell pounced on Sam Togwell’s deflected header but his shot was cleared to safety.

Referee Aji Ajibola then awarded the Rebels a free kick on the edge of the penalty area and Worsfold stood poised to drill a low ball into the box. The cross caused a scramble within the six yard area and Sam Togwell tried to poke an effort goalbound through the mass of bodies but King was equal to it.

But, with an element of fortune, City were the first to break the deadlock and on the 42nd minute, Reece Fleet’s cross found the back of Jack Turner’s net after Bird’s attempt to head it clear went wrong.

City were pressured in defence as Slough pushed hard to find the equaliser in the few remaining minutes of the half  but the visitors kept their hosts at bay with what chances they created.

After the break Oxford grew in confidence and at times looked likely to double their advantage had it not been for Jack Turner who saved a series of shots with his legs.

The visitors then turned to a more defensive structure to further frustrate their hosts’ and the tactics paid dividends as Slough were reduced to less and less opportunities in the second half.

Bird had the opportunity to make amends two minutes from full time by sending a cross into the box which Togwell nodded down only for Josh Jackman to conclude the move by blazing a first time effort out of Arbour Park. It was the story of Slough’s afternoon.

The Rebels remain in second place of the National League South.

After the game, Jon Underwood said: “I’d sum it up as one of those days. I get the feeling that if we played another 45 minutes, we still wouldn’t have scored no matter how dominant we were. For whatever reason that’s sometimes how football works.”

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