Hiller the hero as Oakwood edge past Jewdinese

A match-defining penalty save from James Hiller rescued Oakwood A as the Premier Division title challengers held off the excellent challenge of Jewdinese.




This was a classic cup tie in which 'Nese of Division One were so nearly the giant-killers. The Zebras opted to go five at the back as they were wary of Oakwood’s quality and knew they would have a lot of the ball.

Oakwood dominated possession early on, without creating any clear-cut chances. 'Nese created a couple of half-chances early on, due to the high work rate of Billy Lee, who forced a couple of errors.

But it was Oakwood who eventually opened the scoring after Adam Gold’s long throw was cleared to Josh Bharier around the halfway line. He expertly turned a defender and raced away down the sideline before cutting in towards goal and firing past Ben Halmer - a stunning solo effort.

The visitors almost doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when a headed clearance fell to one of their players on the edge of the box who struck it low and hard, however Ben Halmer expertly got a strong left hand to it to keep their lead to one.

Darren Lawrence's message at the break was to "just keep doing exactly what we had been doing in terms of defending but let’s try and step it up a bit going forward and do things a bit quicker".

Around 10 minutes into the second half 'Nese did exactly that. Zack Collins sprinted down the line and before turning and laying the ball back to Grant Reingold who whipped in a delicious ball and Billy Lee was there to turn it in.

However, the scores only remained level for five minutes, when a lapse of concentration at the back saw the unmarked Simon Davies head home a cross from the right-hand side by Harvey Kaye.

The home side were handed a lifeline with 20 minutes to go. Scott Oldstein was brought down in the box and James Ross, who has scored 100 per cent of his penalties this season, had the chance to level the scores again. His left-footed penalty went to the keeper’s right, but James Hiller produced a superb one-handed save to protect the lead.

'Nese continued to pile on the pressure and Sam Stern had a great chance to equalise but he was unable to get his shot away and Oakwood escaped.

Then, in the dying seconds of the game, 'Nese won a corner. Ben Berrick curled it in only to see the ball bounce along the cross bar three times. It fell to a 'Nese player at the back post who turned it back across, but Zack Collins could only divert the ball over the bar. With that, the final whistle went and Jewdinese players dropped to the floor.

Relieved Oaks joint-manager Dan Kristall told JC Sport: "It was a very tough game against a well-organised, well supported and good Jewdinese side.

"In truth, and on that showing, they would be fine in the Premier Division and I am convinced, just as two or three other first division teams, Jewdinese would cause lots of top-flight teams problems.

"In truth, we had to really dig in and we have our keeper to thank for the game not going to extra-time.Given the amount of subs they had compared to us, I think they would have been massive favourites in extra-time.

"We'd lost four players from when we put the squad out on Friday afternoon and Kyle Bentwood was only able to give us the last 15 minutes as he is recovering from injury, so this was always going to be a tough test.

"We were hanging on at the end but found the resolve to see the game out and advance.

"All in all, it's cup football so the result is the main thing and we advance to a very tough quarter-final against HMH. For now, we have a fortnight to recover the walking wounded and prepare for take two against Jewdinese. We will have to be even better to beat them again."

Jewdinese boss Darren Lawrence told JC Sport: "I'm extremely proud of every single player today. They stuck to the game-plan, made it extremely difficult for Oakwood to create any chances and on another day could’ve come away with the win.

"We can definitely hold our heads high and take a lot of pride away from our performance.

"Credit to Oakwood, best of luck to them for the rest of the season and we look forward to doing it all again in a couple of weeks.”

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