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Ebbsfleet Utd 0, Oxford Utd 2 (05/09)
Simon Clist acknowledges his stunning volley during Oxford United’s win at Ebbsfleet on Saturday, as teammate Damian Batt races to join in the celebrations
CHRIS Wilder's decision to stick with Matt Green despite the striker's misses against Forest Green paid big dividends as Oxford United won their third away game in succession.
Green scored one and made one as United scored two goals in two minutes midway through the first half.
Playing on the right side of the U's attack, with new signing Jamie Cook on the left, Green already had left back Jordan Collins in his pocket, continually beating him for pace and with his football brain.
And on 24 minutes, Collins was in such a state with Green bearing down on him from Adam Murray's long ball forward that he momentarily hesitated, Green nipped in to dispossess him and then prodded a low shot past outrushing keeper Lance Cronin.
The ball was rolling towards the goal, and James Constable raced forward in case he needed to make sure, if either the shot was going wide or might come back off the far post.
But it kept gathered pace as it rolled and crept just inside the upright for Green's fourth goal of the season.
Ebbsfleet had not recovered from that blow when they found themselves two down 90 seconds later.
Green cut in from the right, inevitably past Collins, and although his shot was blocked and half-cleared, Simon Clist then volleyed it back spectacularly from 16 yards.
Clist had scored excellent goals at Woking last season and at Histon this, but this volley was like an exocet, billowing the net before Cronin could react.
In the opening stages of the match, Constable timed his runs better than he did last Monday, and was consequently not caught offside as much, while at the other end, United's defence looked accomplished, Mark Creighton heading everything away, Steven Kinniburgh composed on the ground, and Luke Foster producing one very classy chest pass to Damian Batt.
The visitors were so much in control that Batt was able to frequently help Green out with overlapping runs, to compound the problems for poor young Collins.
There might have been other Oxford goals before the break.
Cook, seeing Cronin well off his line, tried an audacious 50-yard shot from the halfway line, which forced the Fleet keeper to desperately backtrack to save in front of his crossbar.
That left-foot efoort by Cook was better than one he tried with his right, as he darted in from the left, because he sliced that so wide it went out for a throw-in.
And Constable made a mess of a great opportunity when he was through on goal, from Clist's chest trap as the home side got their offside trap all wrong. Getting the ball caught up in his feet a bit, Constable saw the chance wasted.
Lia Daish's side, who have yet to win at home this season, were having to play for long spells in their own half, though they did get a sighting on goal when Murray's misdirected defensive header ran across the pitch to Ricky Shakes, but he shot well wide.
At the start of the second half, Batt lost possession and Magno Vieira was able to cut inside two players before hitting a low shot, Ebbsfleet's first on target all match, and Ryan Clarke saved on his knees.
Fleet had more of a go during the second half, making it a more competitive and even encounter, but they still carved out few clear-cut chances.
Leon Crooks got in behind the U's defence but volleyed wide.
Constable is having a frustrating time personally in front of goal, and when Cook's pass put him in a good position on the left edge of the area, Cronin saved his left-footed shot.
Cook then delivered a great cross from the right which Constable met with a glancing header, but it didn't have the power to trouble Cronin.
With 11 minutes to go, Chris Wilder replaced his No 9 with Jack Midson, the ex-Histon striker getting his first outing for three weeks following his toe injury.
Oxford Utd: Clarke; Batt, Foster, Creighton, Kinniburgh; Bulman, Clist, Murray; Green (Chapman 89), Constable (Midson 79), Cook (Sandwith 86). Subs not used: Turley, Potter.
Ref: Nick Kinseley (Wickford).
Att: 1,468 (506 from Oxford).