FA Cup first round replay - Report: Oxford United 3 Braintree Town 1
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Braintree Town exited the FA Cup at the hands of League Two Oxford United on Tuesday, but came away with their heads held high from an entertaining game that included three penalties.
Liam Sercombe’s first half strike and a brace from Patrick Hoban – the second from the spot – were enough to put the U’s through to a second round clash with Forest Green, after Kenny Davis had given Town the lead with a first-half penalty.
Iron gave as good as they got, especially in the first half, and could have made the last few minutes interesting, had Davis not spurned his second penalty, goalkeeper Benji Buchel easily saving the midfielder’s effort low to his right.
Despite playing into a wicked gale in the first half, Braintree produced some excellent passing football that delighted their 147 travelling fans.
But Oxford stepped up their game in the second half, ironically playing into the wind, and could have won by a more handsome scoreline, but for a combination of good defending, goalkeeper Will Norris, and the woodwork.
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The woodwork also saved Braintree in the first half, Alex MacDonald’s wicked 30-yard free-kick crashing off the top off the crossbar.
That came just three minutes before Iron took the lead.
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Having seen the ball hang in the breeze and swerve around like a boomerang, Braintree persevered with crisp football on the ground and neat passing moves.
But it was a moment of magic that brought them their goal on 33 minutes, Chez Isaac weaving his way through the Oxford defence before being barged over by Joe Skarz.
Davis sent Buchel the wrong way from the spot and, all of a sudden, a cup shock looked on.
Braintree were defending against a strong wind resolutely and only a couple of half chances from Kemar Roofe really troubled them.
But, just as it looked as they would go into the break with a lead, the hosts equalised on 42 minutes.
A long ball forward by Che Dunkley caused confusion between Norris and his backline and Sercombe sneaked in between them to volley home from 18 yards.
Having gone into the interval on a high, the hosts almost made the perfect start to the second half, MacDonald’s bending shot being tipped wide by Norris.
Iron didn’t sit back though and Alex Woodyard fired a half volley over the bar from 30 yards.
It was the U’s that were in the ascendancy though and Sercombe almost grabbed his second of the night with a dipping volley that hit the top of the bar.
Roofe then went close with a near post volley, before he created the chance the saw Oxford take the lead.
The midfielder darted into left-hand side of the box and after showing great strength and tenacity, rolled the ball back for Hoban to tap the ball home, three yards out.
Braintree’s forward forays were becoming a thing of the past as Oxford grew stronger and Hoban slotted home his second of the night from the spot after Matt Fry had upended Callum O’Dowda in the box.
Braintree had the chance to pull a goal back on 86 minutes but after a penalty was awarded for a foul hardly anyone in the stadium saw, Davis, normally so sure from 12 yards, made a hash of his second kick.