The deep frustrations that can arise from the beautiful game were never better demonstrated at Court Place Farm when a highly controversial stoppage time penalty secured an undeserved three points for the hosts against a Peacocks side which had again battled back from going behind before having the better of it in the second half, only to be undone at the death by a poor refereeing decision in keeping with the previous 90 minutes.
Town showed two changes from the side that had started at Worthing, with Nick McCootie taking over from Nat Jarvis up front and Joe Budd stepping in for Lee Lucas, but it was Groundhog Day again as the Peacocks had to play second fiddle to their opponents for the opening quarter, as had been the case in Sussex three days earlier. City, on a run of eight games unbeaten in all competitions, went for it straight from the kick-off, a run down the right and a cross into the middle booted clear by Ollie Chamberlain which was followed by two quickfire corners as the hosts pegged Town back without a chance arising.
The first real opportunity arrived on 16 minutes when Josh Parker laid the ball off to tricky forward Klaidi Lolos who embarked on a run from close to the halfway line into the area before he slotted his effort narrowly wide of the far post. The opening goal was not far off though as another break saw City take the lead after 20 minutes. Town lost possession on the right, allowing Lewis Coyle to thread a pass along the line in search of Lolos who ghosted past Dan Ball and centred into the path of Andre Burley whose shot was blocked on the line by Chamberlain, only for the ball to unfortunately rebound into the net off the back of prone keeper Jack Bycroft.
The Peacocks dug in and began to get a foothold. Chamberlain’s left-footed cross was glanced well wide by Dave Sims-Burgess before they came mightily close to drawing level on the half hour, Zac Smith’s pass being laid off by Sims-Burgess on the left to Budd whose ball across goal was driven against the underside of the bar by Joe Guest with Oxford managing to clear the danger. Lloyd James was brought down by Reece Fleet, already in the book alongside Guest and Sims-Burgess, but Jay Foulston fired the free kick over as Town gained in confidence on the 3G surface, culminating in the equaliser six minutes before the break. Smith won a corner on the left which James curled in and the ball fell loose after the initial challenge for Sims-Burgess to gleefully volley home from five yards.
The last action of the half yielded another half chance for the hosts when Burley got free on the right to square across the box, with Nick Grimes diverting for a corner to prevent Jayden Carbon from capitalising. City maintained their intent when play resumed after the break, Lolos receiving the ball on halfway and gliding forward to force Bycroft into a diving save with a shot from the edge of the box while neat footwork from Parker then created space for a tame shot which Bycroft collected.
Jarvis replaced McCootie ten minutes in which signalled a positive spell for Town going forward. After Bycroft’s kick had nearly caught the back-pedalling City keeper Ben Dudzinski off his line, the Peacocks saw plenty of ball. Foulston’s shot was blocked following a James’ free kick, with the ball recycled into Jarvis whose header suffered the same fate. Foulston drilled another strike wide and James fired just over the bar from a Foulston free kick before the Taunton No 8 picked up a loose header from Tom Harrison to lift an effort narrowly over the top.
A mini period of pressure from the home side was dealt with effectively by Town before they went back on the offensive. Canice Carroll brought down Sims-Burgess just outside the box but somehow evaded a second booking, with James curling the free kick over. A double switch on 77 minutes saw Dylan Morgan and Ross Stearn introduced as both sides probed for the decider in the final ten minutes. Fleet found space on the edge of the area to see his strike blocked but Town were looking the more likely to sneak one. Morgan failed to pick out Stearn after a burst into the box and James sent another free kick straight at Dudzinski before a chance was missed with seven minutes left, Jarvis meeting a James free kick but his header failed to meet the target.
Morgan won possession on the left to cut in and test Dudzinski with another effort before City were reduced to ten men on 87 minutes after Fleet received his second caution. The one man shortage made little difference for the remainder as it appeared odds on that parity would prevail. Joe Iaciofano scuffed a shot to Bycroft while Morgan’s shot was blocked at the opposite end and fell to Foulston, his strike going the same way as most others on the night as it whistled just over. The notion of a well-deserved point was then shattered two minutes into added time. A free kick from Juan-Baptiste Fischer was floated into the box and despite no appeals, referee Read deemed the meeting of Grimes and Harrison worthy of a penalty. Bycroft had saved the two of the three penalties he had faced this season but was unable to make it a hat trick as Iaciofano skipped forward to roll home the spot kick to leave home fans ecstatic and away ones seething.
There was no time for a comeback, condemning Town to a sixth National League game without a win and another slip down the table to 19th. The Peacocks undoubtedly should have secured at least a point in a game in which they again matched an established Step 2 side, but which will be remembered more for the officiating than any football on show.
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Joe Budd (Dylan Morgan 77), Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nick McCootie (Nat Jarvis 55), Joe Guest, Zac Smith, Dave Sims-Burgess (Ross Stearn 77). Unused subs: Ross Staley, Lee Lucas
Oxford City: Ben Dudzinski, Andre Burley, Lewis Coyle, Reece Fleet, Zac McEachran, Klaidi Lolos (Joe Iaciofano 72), Jayden Carbon (Aaron Williams-Bushell 62), Josh Parker, Tom Harrison, Juan-Baptiste Fischer, Canice Carroll. Unused subs: Lewis Miccio, Charlie Rowan, Latrell Humphrey-Ewers
Referee: Samuel Read (Swindon)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Simon Parbery (Beaconsfield)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Samuel Olhausen (High Wycombe)
“How the penalty came across in the 90th minute….it’s embarrassing”…………….with apologies for the sound quality, watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights courtesy of Oxford City FC can be seen HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Zac Smith receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Peacocks’ supporter Chris Billington