Bath Chronicle

FI­NAL SCORE

- Sports · Bath · Oxford City F.C. · Oxford · Tom Smith · Oxford · Ryan Clarke

A brace of free-kicks from Josh Ashby con­demned Bath City to an open­ing day de­feat at Ox­ford City on Tues­day night.

The mid­fielder, who only scored three times last sea­son, curled past Ryan Clarke at the end of each half to get David Old­field’s men off to the per­fect start.

Tom Smith had a goal dis­al­lowed in the sec­ond half fol­low­ing a fine flow­ing move from the Ro­mans, and Ben Dudzin­ski’s sharp re­flexes pre­vented Tommy Con­way a lev­eler. De­ter­mined de­fend­ing from the Hoops pre­vented fur­ther open­ings for Jerry Gill’s men, who suf­fered their first de­feat at Marsh Lane in their sixth visit.

Gill threw loan sign­ing Tom Leak into de­fence at the ex­pense of Ja­son Pope as one of three changes with Jack Bat­ten also mak­ing a wel­come re­turn hav­ing missed the en­tire 2019/20 sea­son with a rup­tured ACL. Ox­ford also drafted in a new loan cen­tre-back in Joe Gub­bins as they matched City’s 3-5-2 for­ma­tion.

It re­sulted in each side can­celling each other out as Ox­ford’s press­ing and har­ry­ing made life dif­fi­cult for City. Con­way’s tame, low strike on the counter was Dudzin­ski’s only save of the first half, with Clarke also largely un­trou­bled un­til the break­through goal.

Ox­ford had started to build pres­sure and won a free-kick on the edge of the box when El­liot Benyon went down un­der the chal­lenge of Bat­ten. It looked soft, and it proved costly as Ashby stepped up to bend the ball around the wall and place it low in­side Clarke’s left post.

While the first half had lit­tle to shout about in a near empty sta­dium, the sec­ond was as eye-catch­ing as City’s new or­ange away strip.

A won­der­ful flow­ing move from the Ro­mans saw Cal­lum Evans’ su­perb low cross missed by Con­way, but Smith was on hand to slam home from six yards, only to see the as­sis­tant’s flag rule it out for offside.

The last 15 min­utes saw City throw bod­ies for­ward which left them sus­cep­ti­ble to a break. Ox­ford sub­sti­tute Har­vey Brad­bury found him­self one-on-one but was de­nied by Clarke with Ryan Har­ley hand­ily placed to clear the loose ball off the line.

Ox­ford rub­ber-stamped their vic­tory with sec­onds re­main­ing when Tom Richards was ad­judged to have brought down Lewis Coyle on the edge of the box.

This time Ashby went for power and su­perbly bent his free-kick around the wall into the roof of the net to give Clarke no chance.

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