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FOOTBALL: City secure gutsy draw
9:40am Monday 10th September 2012 in Football
OXFORD City earned a hard-fought point against Altrincham at Court Place Farm on Saturday after playing 50 minutes with only ten men, writes Jack Johnson.
Mike Ford’s men had Chris Willmott sent off just before half-time, but goals from Declan Benjamin and Steve Basham ensured that City were rewarded for their efforts.
After seven games, City lie eighth in the table and have not lost at home since the opening game of the season.
City could have made a dream start to the match.
Jamie Cook headed wide from Benjamin’s cross and they had two penalty claims turned down as Benjamin and Nabil Shariff looked to be fouled in the area.
However, the visitors began to keep possession and had the ball in the net courtesy of City defender Jack Mills, only for the offside flag to be raised against James Lawrie.
But Altrincham were not to be denied for long. A long throw from Nicky Clee was flicked on to the back post where Damien Reeves was fouled by Willmott as the striker brought the ball down.
The defender, and stand-in captain for the afternoon, was given a straight red card and Reeves picked himself up to beat Warren Carter from the spot. City nearly found themselves level almost immediately as Wayne Blossom, who replaced Shariff for defensive cover, could have equalised with his first touch as he volleyed over Cook’s corner from two yards.
At half-time, Ford changed things. Cook was replaced by Felipe Barcelos and the substitute had an immediate impact, feeding Benjamin who beat the keeper with a shot across goal into the bottom corner after 50 minutes.
A more positive City side then found themselves ahead just a minute later.
Basham picked up the ball on the right before cutting inside Matthew Doughty and curling a sublime left-foot effort into the top corner from 20 yards for his first of the season.
However, City were not ahead for long. Five minutes later, Reeves was fouled by Paul Stonehouse for another penalty. The striker once again recovered to beat Carter from 12 yards.
Altrincham began to take advantage of having an extra man. The post denied Lawrie on 71 minutes, but impressive defending and a couple of outstanding saves from Carter to deny Daniel Hall, Simon Richman and Doughty kept the score level.
Basham could have won it for City but he fired over from 15 yards after good work from Kynan Issac. Oxford City: Carter, Mills, Gunn, Willmott, Stonehouse, Cook (Barcelos H/T), Malone, Pond, Benjamin (Isaac 65), Basham, Shariff (Blossom 41). Subs not used: Learoyd, Skendi.