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FOOTBALL: Willmott's late header lifts City survival fight
7:00am Monday 7th April 2014 in Sport
Chris Willmott headed a late equaliser to give Oxford City a vital 1-1 draw at their fellow Skrill North relegation candidates.
The hosts took 83 minutes to break the deadlock, Paul Ennis firing in what appeared to be a late winner.
But their lead lasted less than three minutes as Willmott levelled against the run of play.
City still had the chance to win it late on, only for Mike Symons to be denied by Matt Regan’s challenge. The result keeps Mike Ford’s side a point clear of the drop zone.
City struggled throughout on a heavy pitch and found themselves on the back foot from the start.
Stalybridge, on the other hand, had no such trouble and caused City problems in the air.
Joel Bembo-Leta headed wide after the visitors failed to clear a corner and Ennis volleyed over from a similar position moments later.
The hosts’ threat remained undiminished after the break and they were kept at bay by a fine display from Matt Bulman in the City goal.
Former Accrington Stanley midfielder Sean McConville exchanged passes with Ennis, but saw his close-range effort blocked by Bulman’s legs, with Liam Dickinson shooting wide from the resulting corner.
Stalybridge finally found the goal they had been threatening late in the game, as Ennis’s snapshot from the edge of the area sneaked between Bulman and his right-hand post.
That served as a wake-up call for City, who immediately responded by launching their first meaningful attack of the game to earn a corner.
And Willmott made sure the home side’s lead would be short-lived, rising highest at the back post to head in Tom Winters’ delivery.
Then came City’s opportunity to win it at the death.
Winters sliced the Celtic defence open with a perfectly-weighted pass only to see Symons denied by a last desperate lunge from Regan with the goal gaping.
Oxford City: Bulman, Benjamin, Stonehouse, Pook (Ballard 62), Learoyd, Preece, McEachran (Willmott 72), Mullings, Symons, Pond, Solomon-Otobor (Winters 58). Subs not used: Jackson, Basham.
Referee: M Parry.
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