OXFORD City’s new era opened with a victory as a superb first-half strike from Javier Rodriguez was enough to beat hosts Hyde United on Saturday.
And City, watched by their American president Thomas Guerriero, achieved their opening-day victory with only ten men after skipper Darren Mullings had been sent off in the first half.
It became a City rearguard action after that, but inspired by a man-of-the-match performance from goalkeeper Mark Scott, they held on.
Scott was called into action early on when making an excellent block to deny Connor Hughes Hyde, relegated from the Conference Premier last season, set a strong pace, but it was City, who took the lead after 13 minutes.
They were awarded a free kick 20 yards from goal.
Rodriguez, one of three Spaniards making their league debuts for City, fired it up and over keeper Billy O’Brien’s wall for a terrific goal.
From then on, City grew in stature, taking the game to their opponents.
But after 30 minutes, Mullings (pictured left) was shown the red card following a late challenge on Hyde’s Aaron Chalmers.
In first-half injury time, City’s Adi Yussuf grazed the bar with a dangerous cross.
Niggly fouls interrupted the flow of the game in the second half.
Hyde should have levelled when Steve Tames rounded Scott, but he shot into the side-netting Scott made an important save to keep out the dangerous Hughes as Hyde sought to equalise.
In the closing stages, O’Brien had to go full length to prevent Rodriguez a second goal, while Yussuf shot wide from eight yards.
At the other end, Hyde’s Josh Brizell headed just over from a corner as City held on for a morale-boosting victory, much to the relief of general manager Justin Merritt and not least, Guerriero.
Oxford City: Scott, Benjamin, Stonehouse, Pond, (Malone 40), Lapoujade Garde, Green, Wilson, (Barcelos 50) Mullings, Yussuf, Rodriguez, del Alamo (Winters 50). Subs not used: Brown, Hernandez.
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