Notts County broke Oxford City hearts in the FA Cup

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Mark Wil­liams

RELIEVED Notts County boss Kevin Nolan paid trib­ute to cup min­nows Oxford City af­ter they were cru­elly de­nied a fa­mous re­play.

A des­per­ate last-gasp strike from Jorge Grant , who is orig­i­nally from Ox­ford­shire, broke the hearts of the Non-League side as the Mag­pies sneaked into the third round fol­low­ing an en­ter­tain­ing tie at Meadow Lane.

Mark Jones’s plucky out­fit had twice bounced back to level but were left dev­as­tated by Grant’s last kick of the game in the fourth and fi­nal minute of injury-time.

“Oxford City were fan­tas­tic and if I was their man­ager now I’d be very dis­ap­pointed,” said Nolan.

“To be hon­est, I would have taken a re­play with five min­utes to go be­cause they seemed to be get­ting stronger as the game went on. They de­serve a lot of credit.

“But I am de­lighted be­cause from our point of view we were nowhere near our best but we kept do­ing what we be­lieve in and we never give in. What we be­lieve in is our qual­ity and to keep work­ing hard and that paid off at the end. It’s nice to get through.”

City en­joyed the bet­ter of the open­ing mo­ments but the first gen­uine chance fell to the hosts on the half-hour mark.

Former Lin­coln winger Terry Hawkridge swung over a cross that was de­flected on its way to Jon Stead, who chested the ball down and volleyed to force a fine save from Jack Stevens.

How­ever, from the re­sult­ing cor­ner, County took the lead with 31 min­utes on the clock. City failed to deal with a Carl Dick­in­son cen­tre and cap­tain Richard Duffy bun­dled the ball home from close range.

County fash­ioned an­other chance on the stroke of half-time but Stead’s nod­ded ef­fort from Ryan Yates’ ball over the top was com­fort­ably caught by Stevens.

City be­gan brightly af­ter the break and Cris­tian Navarro could only send a vol­ley high over the bar when well-po­si­tioned from a Rob Sin­clair cor­ner.

It wasn’t long be­fore the near-300 vis­it­ing fans were in delir­ium.

Sec­onds af­ter Stead saw a de­flected strike hit the post, City equalised. A fine counter-at­tack­ing move fin­ished with Zac McEachran cross­ing for Rob Sin­clair and he fired low and hard into the net af­ter 53 min­utes.

Par­ity lasted just three min­utes how­ever as a re­ju­ve­nated Notts poured for­ward and af­ter Hawkridge was tripped in the box, vet­eran for­ward Stead dis­patched the re­sult­ing penalty with ease.

The tie had burst into life by this point and City lev­elled again af­ter 72 min­utes. Sim­i­lar to their first equaliser, they broke af­ter a long spell of de­fend­ing stoutly and Matt Pater­son fin­ished sub­limely from a McEachran cross.

Notts piled for­ward in in­jury­time and af­ter sub­sti­tute Jonathan Forte’s header was par­ried, Grant, who had been quiet all game, popped up to smash the ball home and deny City what would have been a hard-earned re­play.

“We have to ac­cept the re­sult but it is so tough be­cause we have had play­ers in tears,” said City man­ager Jones.

“How we are go­ing to get the play­ers over this I don’t know be­cause to get so close is heart­break­ing. It wasn’t even a late goal, it was right at the very death.

“But we could not have given any more than we did. A lot of teams would have caved in but we equalised twice and showed tremen­dous char­ac­ter to come and do that at a sta­dium like this.

“We were try­ing to hang on for dear life at the end but it just wasn’t to be. We can be proud of our achieve­ments to get as far as we have.”

RUFFLE SOME FEATH­ERS: Jorge Grant cel­e­brates the win­ner and, inset, God­frey Poku with Ryan Yates

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

HOW’S MATT: Oxford City’s Matt Pater­son scores their sec­ond goal

FLY­ING: Jon Stead cel­e­brates the sec­ond goal

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