Christie strike provides super start to 2010
16 January 2010
After almost three weeks without football, The Lambs made the journey to Oxford United's impressive stadium to face a side who would be eager to take advantage of the postponement at Stevenage and aim to take top spot in the league - should Tamworth fail to keep a clean sheet in what would undoubtedly be a tough test.
Chris Smith sat out through suspension, Alex Rodman was suffering with a back problem and Simon Brown had returned to Wrexham so Neil MacKenzie and Michael Blackwood and Nick Wright came into the starting eleven in three changes to the side that played out a goalless draw with Forest Green on Dec 28.
Pritchard kicked the first ball for the Lambs of the new decade, getting the game underway kicking towards the East Stand but less than a minute into eth game Potter got the better of Blackwood on the left of the area and with Alcock coming out tried a chip inside the far post. Thankfully, the ball curled harmlessly away from goal.
A couple of minutes later Constable ran through an got a shot away but the linesman spotted an infringement, although play was not stopped as Alcock gathered easily and the referee played the advantage.
On 4 MacKenzie lined up a freekick which was nodded away but allowed Tamworth to keep possession in the final third for a short period until Constanble broke out of midfield, played a 1-2 with Potter on the edge of the area and hit a low right footed shot at Alcock which he dropped to save.
Good play from Nick Wright down the left saw him put the ball into the danger area on 8 but MacKenzie's shot was blocked and United cleared the danger.
Murray received a stiff talking to for a foul on Pritchard on the half way line on 9 and Briscoe's long freekick into the area just didn't fall right for Sheridan and again United put bodies in the way and cleared the danger.
A good run down the left wing by Sheridan won a corner from his angled drive across the face of goal which Clarke booted behind but Pritchard was unable to keep his far post header from the corner in play.
Oxford exerted some pressure around 15 but the offside flag halted two good balls through the Lambs back four reaching their intended man.
On 16 Wylde blocked an almost certain finish from Potter reaching the goal after Green brought Alcock out and cut the ball into Potter's path in front of a gaping goal.
The offside flag denied Potter on 19, who finished the move with a right footed shot into the net, while in the next move, at the other end, Christie picked up the loose ball on the left of the area but found a clean shot at goal impossible and the chance was gone.
Hard work by Wright on the right wing, chasing down the covering defender, won Tamworth a corner on 23 and when the ball came out to Shaw his looping shot struck the bar and Pritchard won another corner as he tried to work the ball back in. This time MacKenzie put the ball into the area only to see it booted out for another flag kick which Christie was unable to keep hold of past the far post from Briscoe's flick on.
Then, on 29 Tamworth took the lead. Christie received a great pass from Sheridan to send him free on the left with just a defender covering and spotting Clarke off the line he tried a chip, but it looked like Clarke had managed to recover as he got his finger tips to it only to fall into the net with the ball following to silence the shocked home faithful. (1-0, 28 mins)
Oxford were obviously not going to take that lying down and after a midfield battle they won a corner on 35 which Alcock punched away when Clist fired in a testing cross.
Sheridan required treatment following a slip on the left wing but was Ok to continue and United exerted more pressure with some neat passing and won another flag kick on the left on 41 and Alcock punched it away again.
Hesitance in the Oxford defence won Tamworth a corner on 43 and while Wright received a bit of treatment before the flag kick, Murray was spoken to by the referee again. Nothing came of the corner, but Wright was able to re-enter play seemingly none the worse.
Play switched to the opposite end and United won a corner with a deflected shot. Potter rose highest to head the ball goalward, but cleared the bar by a good couple of meters and almost the fence onto the car park behind the goal.
Two minutes added time was shown at the end of the first half and no further incidents wrapped up a very pleasing first 45 minutes of football in 2010.
There was an early scare in the second period when a ball ran through to Alcock off the shins of Wylde with Potter closing down but Tamworth were not phased by their illustrious opponents and other than the fact that the home fans out numbered the travelling faithful by a huge ratio (40:1) there was little to chose between the two teams other than Christie's solitary first half strike.
Chris Wilder made two subs on 52, sensing that his side were not performing as he would like, and as they took their places on the field MacKenzie lined up a freekick on the right of the box which struck the wall. He got the ball back and sent it into the area and although Christie got a good flick header, the ball ran away from Shaw who was the best positioned Tamworth player on the edge of the area.
Tait booted a right wing cross from Batt away on 57 but Pritchard was penalised for a foul outside the area after being turned by Potter.
The freekick allowed Oxford to set up a 25 yard strike diagonally from the left on a 45 degree angle to goal and although it cannoned off the wall, the home side won a corner and the home faithful found their voice as Alcock collected easily at height.
Alcock rushed out along his line to try and prevent a corner but was unsuccessful on the hour, but the header was high over the bar. And Wright was replaced by Ulker on 62.
When Alcock allowed the ball to run out for a goal kick, Murray sprinted to retrieve the ball from the stand and placed it on Alcock's mark for him to kick - in a bid to speed the game up, but like every other goalkeeper in the world would have done he picked it up and put it on the other side of his area - much to the annoyance of the home fans behind him.
A push on Briscoe halted the run of united sub Matt Green and a minute later Constable flashed a shot at a very tight angle into the arms of Alcock from the right as Oxford looked hard for a goal to get back into the game.
A late challenge by Crieghton left Pritchard on the floor in front of the technical area on 69 but it was little more than a scratch and he was soon on his feet.
Blackwood then gave away a freekick on the right but Tamworth were just too quick and strong for the home side to do anything of any worth with Sheridan hoofing the danger clear.
Christie was penalised for being too strong for the Oxford players on 72 - forcing his way through down the left without really fouling anyone but the referee thought otherwise, looking at the trail of players in Christie's wake.
Briscoe put in a telling tackle to deny Constable a run at goal on 73 and once again Oxford tried their hardest to get back into the tie and won a freekick on the right which Clist floated straight into the grateful arms of Alcock on 76.
Shaw became the first booking of 2010 after twice tackling Batt in the same move - the first was waved play on but the second was penalised by Mr Hopkins.
Wylde was then booked for time wasting, helping Alcock to retrieve the ball for a goal kick, and as captain, MacKenzie was spoken to by the referee. Then as Sheridan walked off after being substituted the referee obviously didn't think he was moving fast enough and became another name in his book.
Constable smashed a shot at Alcock from 16 yards on 83 forcing the keeper to parry the ball over his bar and when the corner came in the same player placed his header straight into the arms of a greatful Lambs keeper.
Occaasionally making more noise that the rest of the Stadium, the 141 Lambs fans could be heard above the disgruntled chatter of the United fans as Wylde lunged at a cross to deny a chance as Tait and then Alcock threw everything at the ball to deny a couple of well struck shots the latter coming from Constable and leaving Alcock limping.
Hurren made a rare appearance off the bench in the final minutes, replacing Christie and an additional six nail biting minutes of added time.
Blackwood was now taking goal kicks for Alcock, who was definitely struggling and as the Lambs did their utmost to run the clock down Oxford did everything but score with Alcock on hand at least once to deny Constable, with his feet.
An injury to Murray that required treatment on the field halted proceedings as the clock ticked past 96 and Batt was sent off in the final seconds after Constable had scored, but was well offside, and Batt received a double booking in the space of seconds for protesting the decision.
When the game restarted the final whistle blew on a superb result for The Lambs.
Alcock, Tait, Blackwood, Wylde, MacKenzie, Wright N (Gohkan 62), Pritchard, Sheridan (Langdon 81), Shaw, Briscoe, Christie (Hurren 88)
Subs: Lyttle, Mills
Oxford United Team:
Clarke, Bluman, Creighton, Chapman (Batt 52), Murray, Constable, Clist, Wright J, Potter (Midson 64), Tonkin, Green F (Green M 52)
Subs: Turley, Day
Referee: J Hopkins