Oxhey Jets Game One Report
match report by Simon Grier, photos by Simon Roe
For the second time in as many years, the build-up to a Ks cup time was dominated by wondering what sort of a team the opposition would put out.
In 2019 Macclesfield’s striking stars were replaced by youth teamers out of their depth in an easy 4-0 Ks win but this time around, disruption to the opposition team did little to help Hayden Bird’s men in a tough FA Cup tie.
On Tuesday Oxhey Jets manager Stuart Atkins resigned from the club, with six of his squad following him out the door. Like Macclesfield, the Jets had to confirm on social media in the days before the game that they’d be able to fulfil the fixture – but that’s where the comparison between the two games ends.
Rather than racing into an early lead as they did at the Moss Rose, Ks made precious little impact throughout the whole first half against their hosts from the Spartan South Midlands League. In fact it was Oxhey who had the first chance, with Lewis Putman – who’s scored over 200 goals for them in his career – having a header deflected over.
Ks enjoyed the bulk of the possession in the first half but struggled to move the ball quickly on a pitch with unusually long grass and they created few clear-cut chances. Rhys Murrell-Williamson was the biggest threat and came close when he hooked a Declan Skura header narrowly over, while Simon Cooper headed over and Elliott Buchanan straight at goalkeeper Rob Partington.
Ks probably felt that a goal would help them settle and one finally came quickly after the break. Murrell-Williamson cut in on the right and blasted the ball powerfully through Partington at the near post.
Rather than get down though The Jets hit back immediately. Almost inevitably the goal game though Putman, heading a cross from the left back across Rob Tolfrey and into the bottom corner. It was a fine finish from a striker who counts Slough Town among his former clubs and Ks found difficult to deal with all day.
Ks were playing quicker and with more purpose after the break though. Skura threw himself at a corner forcing Partington to save at point blank range and the goalkeeper did even better to claw a Buchanan effort away in a one-on-one situation after an Aaron Lamont through ball.
Ks restored the lead on 65 minutes when Fabio Saraiva hit a wicked cross from deep on the left which caught the goalkeeper and defence out but Murrell-Williams met it with perfect timing to allow himself a simple finish at the far post.
Oxhey remained spirited though and once again didn’t let their heads drop on falling behind. Almost immediately Putman forced Tolfrey to save and then on 75 minutes he won a penalty after tangling in the box with Skura.
This led to a fracas between the two sides and a four minute conference between the match officials, just to show yellow cards to Lamont, Skura, Cooper and Cook for K's and Oxhey's Sandro Costa, before Putman was eventually allowed to step up and send Tolfrey the wrong way to make it 2-2.
Ks were yet again looking to restore their leads but Kershaney Samuels and Murrell-Williamson struggled to get enough power on their shots to test Partington.
Bird’s men mounted the pressure and as the game drew to a close they twice felt wronged by the referee as they tried to grab a winner. The first time was when Jon Munday appeared to crash through Samuels inside the penalty area before winning the ball; and then from the resulting corner Skura bundled it over the line but the officials were unable to see what was clearly caught on camera.
The game finished 2-2 but could have gone either way in the lengthy period of stoppage time with Ollie Cook doing well to head a couple of dangerous Jets crosses away with most of the 300-strong crowd desperate to see a giant-killing.
Ks continued to pressurise until the end but were probably relieved that they get to bring Oxhey back to King George’s Field on Wednesday rather than facing extra time, as they would have under last season’s Covid rules. Bird admitted to not wanting to over-commit and risk defeat when he substituted Lamont with Gus Sow rather than a striker.
Oxhey rightly celebrated what they declared to be ‘one of their proudest moments’ and ‘unbelievable’ – while Ks will be hoping to show more quality at home in the replay.
Oxhey Jets: Rob Partington, Kenny Nobrega, Tom Gibson, Jon Munday, Joe Haidar, Tom Inch, Sandro Costa, Jude Bell, Lewis Putman, Harry Beaumont, Sean Giordmaina.
Subs: Owen Ayres (for Sandro Costa, 90+2m), David Jacks, Lee Grace, Vagnol Kediambiko, Nathan Page, Massoki Barradas, Tom Kennedy.
Goal scorers: Rhys Murrell-Williamson (46m, 0-1), Lewis Putman (50m, 1-1), Rhys Murrell-Williamson (65m, 1-2), Lewis Putman (79m pen, 2-2)
Attendance: 300 (plus one very fluffy dog)