After a superb Good Friday victory, an Easter Monday battle awaited as the Clarets visited the RAW Charging Stadium to face Oxford City. It was 3rd place playing 4th place, in a game which will no doubt have a massive impact on the playoff race. An interesting first half brought a trio of goals. A penalty from either side, along with a great solo effort, saw Oxford lead 2-1 at the break. The Clarets had plenty of good second half chances but failed to hit the back of the net. On top of that, Oxford managed to add a third, sending Chelmsford back to Essex empty handed.
After the feisty fixture on Friday, some changes came to Robbie’s side. Adebola Oluwo and Frankie Terry both missed out, after sustaining injuries in the game against Farnborough. Alongside them, Tom Blackwell and Callum Jones were out the starting eleven, with them both dropping to the bench. In their place, Cameron James as well as Simeon Jackson returned to the starting side, with them both coming on Friday. Giovanni McGregor was reinstalled into the side, as well as Tyreke Johnson. Amongst the substitutes was the returning international Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, as well as Harry Lodovica. Alongside Jones and Blackwell, James Blanchfield made up the final place on Robbie’s bench.
In the sunny Oxford, the hosts kicked the game off. They had the first effort of the game, with McEachran laying it back, only to see if fired way over the bar, and out of the ground. The Clarets got the ball for the first time, and Simeon Jackson managed to roll past Lewis Miccio, before the Oxford man hauled him down to give a free kick to Chelmsford. Giovani McGregor and Ben Brookes stood over it, with the delivery being turned behind by Josh Ashby. Brookes’ corner was cleared, and Tyreke Johnson fired it back in but, deflected, it trickled just past the post. Some great play for Oxford saw Potter eventually lose it and Folivi was able to attack. His first effort was blocked, and the attempted clearance was cannoned back off an Oxford player and out for a corner. The delivery failed to beat the first man, with Oxford regaining possession. Failing to do anything with it, it was back into Chelmsford hands. Brookes sent a throw long, with Jackson closing down and nicking the ball, managing to find Folivi. He drove into the box, and was brought down by Miccio, winning a penalty. After his goal from the spot against Worthing, the Kosovan Kaka, Arjanit Krasniqi was up again. He stepped up and rolled it into the bottom right, sending Adnan Kanuric the wrong way. The Clarets took the early lead, just after the 10-minute-mark. It was the Clarets on top, with Oxford struggling to get many chances. McEachran looked to play Sanderson in until it was shut out by Winfield and Co. It was a stinging shot from Alfa next, as he got some good space before firing goalwards. Adnan Kanuric was more than capable to save and held to see off the onrushing Jackson.
After some good keeper from the on-loan Nottingham Forest keeper, it was Chelmsford’s Chelsea loanee with some brilliance this time. Zac McEachran broke free in the box, before hitting a shot which forced Eddie Beach into a brilliant fingertip save, seeing him send the shot behind and out for a corner. The corner came to nothing, with Oxford taking possession back to their half. After countless number of passes, Oxford finally had a reward. The backtracking Folivi put in a desperate pass, bringing the Oxford man down and giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Josh Ashby stepped up, and it was the same fate as the earlier penalty, as it was made 1-1. Oxford looked
to threaten in the minutes after. Arjanit Krasniqi found himself overing for Cameron James but was unable to intercept with Winfield then stepping in, to turn behind for a corner. It was a poor delivery, straight into the side netting. A well taken corner showed Oxford how to do it. Simeon Jackson was threaded through, and he won a corner from Miccio. Ben Brookes was across, and he floated it in beautifully. Dave Winfield rose highest and just headed his effort over the bar.
The Clarets had been on top, but after some poor play, fell behind. Liam Trotter was disposed up field, with Zac McEachran picking the ball up. He ran from just inside his own half, before hitting a low, well-driven shot into the bottom left and getting Oxford’s second of the day. Despite starting well, 1 little lapse of concentration saw Oxford take the lead. They came forward again, after once again Chelmsford losing the ball. This time, Lewis Coyle was able to fire goalwards. The ball did not reach Eddie Beach, with Dave Winfield managing a good block. A great block stopped a superb opportunity for the Clarets to level. After momentarily going off, Alfa was back on and picked the ball up to drive at the Oxford back line. He did just that and sent the ball across to Giovanni McGregor. He got his shot away with Canice Carroll putting his body on the line, blocking well. With 2 minutes being added on, the Clarets were once again under some pressure. McEachran was the architect, again attempting to drive a ball across the box. Beach did well to stick out a leg, and the rebound dropped for Sanderson, who placed his effort into Eddie’s arms. With the 2 minutes up, the final play of the half was an Oxford corner. It was sent in deep, but onto the roof of the net, seeing Stephen Parkinson end the half with Chelmsford trailing.
HALF TIME: OCFC 2-1 CCFC
The second half kicked off, with the Clarets getting the game back underway. The Clarets’ best chance of the game, so far, came just a minute into the second half. A poor ball by Carroll saw Liam Trotter allow Tyreke Johnson to drive forward, which he did very well. An overload was for the Clarets, with Johnson having time to strike at goal, seeing Kanuric save and just about hold the ball. The first 10 of the half was Claret filled. A great chance just fell short, after a great ball by Ben Brookes. It was well worked on the left-hand-side who whipped the ball in across the face of goal, just evading the strikers in the box. After Lewis Coyle dragged Ody Alfa down, Adnan Kanuric was forced into a good save. Ben Brookes delivered, seeing Simeon Jackson flick the ball delicately at goal. It seemed destined to nestle in the bottom corner, with Kanuric tipping it round the post. With 2 booking in 2 minutes, the set pieces and the chances for Chelmsford were pilling up. But itn was Oxford with a great chance to get the game’s fourth. Some great work by Zac McEachran saw him lay off for Reece Fleet who smashed goalwards. Trotter blocked but the ball fell for Sanderson, who span and shot wide of Eddie Beach’s goal. Sanderson made no mistake next time. Some great work by Giovanni McGregor was worth nothing, with Michael Folivi giving away the ball. Oxford broke quickly, with Josh Ashby playing a great ball through to Oliver Sanderson. Putting the last wide, he made no mistake with this one, slotting past Eddie Beach to grab the Hoops’ third.
With just over 15 minutes to go, Robbie turned to his bench for his first 2 subs. Firstly, Michael Folivi, who won and gave away the penalties was replaced by Callum Jones. Secondly, Tom Blackwell replaced the booked Simeon Jackson. It was Oxford who were coming forward though. Oliver Sanderson had a great chance to get his second but dragged his effort inches wide. McEachran sent the ball across, and Sanderson’s deft effort span the right side of the post, for Eddie Beach. With just 5 minutes to go, the final Clarets sub came. Tyreke Johnson was off, and Harry Lodovica returned to league action, for the first time since early February. He was involved straight away, winning a free kick after challenging in the air. Tom Blackwell looked to strike it but ended up hitting the wall. Once again, it was oh so close for Chelmsford. Some great work by Tom Blackwell allowed him to pick out Liam Trotter on the edge of the box. His effort was deflected, and Harry Lodovica attempted to poke
it home, only for Adnan Kanuric to be on hand to claim it. With the 90 up, 5 were added on for the Clarets to find a way back into this game. Some great running from Callum Jones allowed Arjanit Krasniqi the chance to cross but sent his ball just too high, evading Lodovica’s head and going all the way out for a goal kick. Oxford somehow did not get their fourth with just second to go. Andre Burley got 1 on 1 with Eddie Beach and laid it to Alfie Potter who had the open goal to score. Despite this, he took one touch too many, and saw his effort blocked. Ody Alfa was then on hand to clean up. Just like that, the Clarets fell to defeat.
FULL TIME: OCFC 3-1 CCFC
Beach (GK), James, Trotter, Winfield (C), Johnson (Lodovica 85’), Folivi (Jones 73’), Jackson (Blackwell 73’), McGregor, Alfa, Brookes, Kransiqi
Unused subs: Barnum-Bobb, Blanchfield
Goals: Krasniqi (PEN) 11’,
Cautions: Jackson 49’, McGregor 90+3’
Kanuric (GK), Miccio, Ashby, Burley, Coyle, Fleet (C), McEachran (Davies 87’), Potter, Sanderson (Lolos 85’), Williams-Bushell (Wilson 90+1), Carroll
Unused subs: Iaciofano, Humphrey-Ewers
Goals: Ashby (PEN) 28’, McEachran 36’, Sanderson 70’
Cautions: Ashby 64’, Carroll 66’
Words By Josh Lowe