Shrewsbury Town required extra time to edge past non-league Oxford City as Steve Cotterill takes charge for the first time.
The clash was overshadowed by an atrocious decision from the referee to produce a red card apiece after consulting with the linesman.
Aaron Pierre and James Roberts were involved in a second
half tangle which was nothing out of the ordinary. However, the referee sent
both off for violent conduct.
Shrewsbury Town laboured throughout the contest and were
second best against a regimented Oxford City side. But Daniel Udoh’s extra time
goal was enough to ensure that Town are in the hat for the coveted third round
Steve Cotterill made four changes from the side that drew
2-2 against MK Dons. Matija Sarkic made a surprise return in goal after
recovering from a hamstring injury, whilst Sean Goss looked to revive his
Shrewsbury career after being frozen out by the previous regime. Ethan
Ebanks-Landell and Captain Ollie Norburn returned from suspension.
Neither side were able to assert their dominance in a first
half void of any meaningful chances. Dave Edwards had sent Shaun Whalley
through, but Woking loanee Ben Gerring defended admirably to snuff out the
Shrewsbury were guilty of needlessly giving away possession and free-kicks – but despite plenty of endeavour, the visitors were unable to capitalise.
Dave Edwards’ wild shot which probably saw the ball end up
in the car park, summed up a poor first half. Shaun Whalley may feel that he
should have done better after Ben Gerring misjudged the flight of Williams’
punt up field. The winger saw Dudzinski off his line, but his chip was under
hit and the goalkeeper comfortably gathered.
Steve Cotterill’s side started the second period marginally
better. Both Shaun Whalley and Sean Goss had strikes blocked, as Oxford City’s
defenders continued to perform well. However, the visitors should have been
reduced to ten men after Nana Owusu’s lunge on Dave Edwards – the man with the
whistle inexplicably decided not to produce a second yellow.
David Oldfield’s outfit soon began to carve out chances of
their own. McEachran, a former product of the Chelsea academy, released James
Roberts out wide. The ex-Oxford United foward, cut inside and stung the palms
of Matija Sarkic.
At the other end, Shaun Whalley, Town’s best attacking
outlet, moved through the gears prior to sending a swerving attempt wide of
Dudzinski’s left hand post.
The visitors continued to pose a threat. James Roberts’ deep
cross was met by Ben Gerring at the back stick, and his header was clawed to
safety by Sarkic. A melee ensued but Shrewsbury eventually managed to clear
It became the type of FA Cup tie that Steve Cotterill would
have feared as Oxford City backed up their supreme defending with attacking
opportunities. Former Swindon striker Elliott Benyon bore down on goal – his
shot deflected off Aaron Pierre and grazed the top netting.
In the 80th minute, the referee became the centre
of attention with an abysmal decision. Aaron Pierre and James Roberts
challenged for an aerial ball. Roberts caught Pierre on the way down, possibly
accidentally. As Pierre rose from the ground, Roberts’ head made contact with
his knee; and for whatever reason the referee sent both players off. It has to
be one of the most perplexing decisions that you are likely to see.
Oxford City initially seemed to adapt better to being down
to ten men. Lewis Coyle jinked beyond Charlie Daniels and entered the box. His
low drive was blocked behind by Matija Sarkic.
Veteran midfielder Marc Pugh could have prevented extra
time. Fantastic interchange play eventually saw Ollie Norburn cut the ball back
for Pugh. His whipped effort looked destined for the top corner but full-back
Drewe, who is on loan from QPR, arrived on the scene to head off the line.
As neither side could be separated in normal time, an
additional 30 minutes was required. Toward the end of the first section,
substitute Jason Cummings saw his close range shot heroically blocked by Hall.
Cummings was also denied by a last ditch Drewe tackle.
Shrewsbury finally broke the deadlock in the 118th
minute. Oxford City failed to clear Scott Golbourne’s cross, and Daniel Udoh
swept home beyond Dudzinski. It was harsh on Oxford City who had dug in well,
and they may have replied had Fleet managed to strike on target.
Jason Cummings should have sealed the win in the dying
embers. He manoeuvred into the box and sat the keeper down, with the goal
gaping the ex-Nottingham Forest striker dragged wide.
This display shows that Steve Cotterill has a lot of work to
do, but he will be pleased with progression in the world’s oldest cup
competition. His first league game is at home to Accrington on Wednesday,
whilst Oxford City are away to Hungerford Town on Tuesday.
Team Line Ups
31. Sarkic, 5. Williams, 24. Ebanks-Landell (45), 15. C.
Daniels, 8. Norburn, 4. Edwards (57), 6. Goss (79), 10. Vela, 7. Whalley (111),
Subs: 1. Burgoyne, 3. Golbourne (45), 14. Millar (57), 22. J. Daniels, 23. Udoh (79), 25. High, 35, Cummings (111)
Subs Not Used: 1. Burgoyne, 22. J. Daniels, 25. High
1. Dudzinski, 2. Drewe, 20. Gerring (75), 19. Fernandez, 3. Hall, 7. Roberts, 8. Fleet, 4. Ashby, 15. Coyle (112), 10. McEachran (95), 11. Owusu (60)
Subs: 5. Matsuzaka (75), 8. Benyon (60), 12. Bancroft (112), 13.
Grantham, 14. Bradbury (95), 16. Martinez, 18. George
Subs Not Used: 13. Grantham, 16. Martinez, 18. George