CITY 1 OXFORD UNITED 0
League Division 2
6th October, 1984
Ref John Key
City Williams, May, Power, Reid, McCarthy, Phillips, Smith, Baker, Cunningham, Wilson, Kinsey – sub Tolmie(80)
Oxford Hardwick, Hinshelwood, McDonald, Trewick, Briggs, Shotton, Rhoades-Brown, Aldridge, Hamilton, Hebberd, Brock – sub Biggins(72)
It was the end of Oxford’s remarkable unbeaten run of 23 matches but it was desperately late before the Blues managed to wreck the record. The winner, 3 minutes from time, ended a seemingly unending tussle of midfield strengths.
So much of the match seemed to take place away from the penalty zones that it was a surprise that a goal did develop. But it came when substitute Jim Tolmie changed the pattern of action after receiving a throw-in from Paul Power and lofted a long high ball deep into the Oxford area. Striker Ton Cunningham went for it, challenged by Gary Briggs but this time the City man got the touch and headed the ball into Steve Kinsey’s path. Barely 10 yards from goal and with space to spare, Kinsey hit a fierce close range shot, a winner that nudged the Blues into 6th place in the Second Division table.
Oxford were aggrieved. They still thought they had saved the match when Graham Baker headed into his own net in the dying seconds. But the referee judged that Bobby McDonald had pushed the City midfielder. And, McDonald had been flagged offside, anyway.
Hard-working Oxford were also upset at the refusal of two penalty appeals. Although they only mustered three actual goal attempts, they did penetrate into City’s area and felt justified in a spot-kick appeal when John Trewick was floored in the first half by a tough challenge from Nicky Reid. That was turned down. And so, too, was a claim for a penalty when Mick McCarthy tackled Steve Biggins outside the area. This incident caused Billy Hamilton to blow his top and he was booked for dissent.
Although McCarthy, earlier booked for the third time this season, was handicapped by a thigh injury, he still snuffed out the threat from Oxford’s free-scoring pair Aldridge and Hamilton. And Alex Williams didn’t have a serious save until Kevin Brock burst through in the 85th minute.
City had the livelier attacking idea and Steve Hardwick made crucial saves as he withstood an aerial battering from the leaping Cunningham. He stopped shots from Kinsey and Clive Wilson, who was an effective midfielder for the Blues.
Wilson was the first to test Hardwick, a 20 yard left-footer. Kinsey’s attempt was a sweet half-volley after sprinting clear of 3 opponents, and Hardwick could only halt it with his legs.
Unbeaten since the previous March, Oxford seemed happy for a draw until the lethal strike from Kinsey. Certainly they produced little fire until a late flurry.
Refereeing decisions took most of manager Jim Smith’s attention afterwards: “‘All you want from referee’s is honesty. You should expect better decisions from them. The “goal’ was only disallowed because City didn’t score it. The fact that the referee turned down two penalties for us just made things worse”, he complained. City manager Billy McNeill said: “There was definitely something wrong with Oxford’s ‘equaliser’. The linesman’s flag went up straight away. We were the better side, though we had to fight for it”
FROM AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE CITY PROGRAMME 1ST MARCH 1986