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Oxenhope storm into County Trophy last eight
Walton 1 Oxenhope Reserves 5
Oxenhope’s second string made the long journey to south-east Wakefield for their delayed last-16 County Trophy tie and came back with a convincing victory over Walton’s first team, from the Premier Division of the Wakefield League.
The result was all the more impressive as they had to play most of the game with only ten men and fought back from a goal down.
After a month off, Oxenhope started slowly, and on 15 minutes the game swung dramatically in Walton’s favour when defender Chris Fazackerley was harshly sent off following a 50-50 challenge with his opposite number.
The home side, sensing an opportunity, upped the ante and took the lead.
With Oxenhope still feeling hard done to by the dismissal, they lost their focus and were punished when the home striker found himself unmarked in the box and rifled the ball into the roof of the net.
This Oxenhope side, however, are made of sterner stuff, as they have consistently proved all season.
This game was to be no different, as they rolled up their sleeves and played with real intent.
A change of formation saw striker Chris Newman slot into midfield, with the other two frontmen, Leroy Hickman and Leon Smith, playing narrower.
This paid dividends as, on the half-hour, Smith latched onto a through ball, outpaced his marker and fired home the equaliser.
Oxenhope were now on top and created a host of chances. Newman saw a rasping long-range effort tipped over, Smith had a shot well saved and Hickman hit the post following a fine, flowing move.
At the other end, Oxenhope keeper Nick Hudson made a couple of routine catches and one superb save at the feet of the Walton striker.
After the break, Oxenhope continued where they had left off and within minutes took the lead when Jason Walton found himself unmarked in the box to nod home Hickman’s precise corner.
Smith, Hickman and midfielder Will Lee were causing havoc among the hosts’ back four and the ten men soon extended their advantage when skipper Lee scored on the hour from the penalty spot following a push on Smith.
Five minutes later, Smith doubled his tally when he accepted a pull back and fired home his second of the day.
The same player was then brought down in the box but, given the opportunity to score his hat-trick, fired embarrassingly wide from the spot.
Oxenhope were not to be denied and, on 75 minutes, Jason Walton hit his second from inside the area.
This win extended the reserves’ unbeaten run since the start of the season to 16 in all competitions.
In this team victory, the defence were solid and well organised, the midfield worked tirelessly and, up front, man of the match Hickman and Smith produced a non-stop attacking display. This Saturday the reserves travel to Denholme Reserves in the Keighley Supplementary Cup semi-final (1.30pm).
Team: Hudson, Fazackerley C, Hawker, Walton, Davies, Fazackerley D, Lee (Robinson), Walsh (Wellard), Newman, Hickman, Smith (Dyson).
* Oxenhope firsts – whose County Cup tie at Steeton was postponed for the second weekend running and will now be played on January 25 – are also in semi-final action, at home to FC Sporting Keighley in the Keighley Cup (1.30pm).
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