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FOOTBALL: Superb City go up in style
Oxford City 4
(Barcelos 39, Basham pen 57, Isaac 72, Skendi 83)
AFC Totton 2
(Brown 50, Osman 88)
Oxford City clinched promotion to the Blue Square Bet Conference with a thrilling 4-2 win against AFC Totton at Court Place Farm yesterday.
It was no more than City deserved after a superb second-half performance saw Mike Ford’s men take charge of the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division play-off final.
Leading through Felipe Barcelos’s long-range free-kick at half-time, City were hauled back by Totton, before a three-goal blitz in 25 minutes from Steve Basham, Kynan Isaac and Albi Skendi saw City to a glorious victory.
Next season they will play in Blue Square bet North or South – just two steps beneath the Football League.
City named the same 11 who started in Thursday’s semi-final on a pitch that survived heavy overnight rain and a morning downpour.
There was drama before the game, with all the match officials stuck in heavy traffic, so referee Adam Fielding was called in.
It was Totton, who boasted former Oxford United midfielder Carl Pettefer, who started the brighter, with Ryan Moss heading Ryan Hill’s free-kick over the bar.
At the other end, James Bittner managed to claw away Andy Ballard’s header following a Declan Benjamin corner.
Ballard gave away a foul on the left-hand edge of the area, but Jason Mooney dived full-length to keep out Hill’s free-kick on 12 minutes.
Barcelos almost set-up strike partner Basham, but the former Oxford United marksman headed his cross over.
Moss and Michael Charles looked useful up front for Totton, with City forced to work hard to contain their movement.
Adam Learoyd made a super block from Chris Brown, before Mooney kept out another powerful free- kick from Hill.
City were making inroads into Totton’s defence with Basham and Barcelos a real menace and took the lead on 39 minutes.
Isaac was fouled near the area, and Barcelos fired the resulting free-kick past Bittner into the back of the net from 25 yards with the help off a deflection off a defender.
As the half ended, Bittner’s opposite number, Mooney, did well to grab the ball off Moss’s head.
Five minutes after the break, Totton equalised when Brown lashed home after City failed to clear a corner.
Mike Ford’s side recovered from the setback and started to come more into the game, with Basham having a shot saved by the keeper.
City regained the lead in the 57th minute when Brian Whisken handled when under pressure from Barcleos.
Basham hammered the resultant spot-kick low past Bittner’s right hand into the corner of the net.
City kept up the pressure with Marvin Martin’s super free-kick tipped over by Bittner, with Learoyd seeing a header cleared off the line.
Seconds later, Bittner palmed Isaac’s dangerous cross over the bar.
And it was 3-1 to City on 72 minutes when Isaac drilled home a clever free-kick across the area past Bittner.
It became 4-1 shortly afterwards when substitute Skendi curled a fantastic shot past a stunned Bittner from the edge of the area.
City were home and dry and it did not matter that Totton’s Mark Osman clawed one back two minutes from time.
Moments later there was a pitch invasion as City’s players and fans celebrated a stunning win.
Oxford City: Mooney, Martin (Skendi 82), Learoyd, Ballard, Malone, Willmott, Lyon (Blossom 54), Benjamin, Basham, Barcelos (Woodley 75), Isaac. Subs: McLoughlin, Bell.
AFC Totton: Bittner, Hill (Shelborne 73), Richardson, Bottomley, Whisken, Scott, Pettefer, Davies, Moss, Charles (Osman 65), Brown. Subs: Osman, Coutts, Jack, Sherborne.
Referee: A Fielding.
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