The Blues defeated Derby 1sts comfortably 3-0 away from home on a 3G surface to proceed to the next round of the cup. After an early scare straight from kick-off, where Tom Haigh was forced into a fine save low down at his near-post and the ball was cleared off the line, Oxford began to slowly assert their dominance. A no-nonsense approach at the back meant they were able to play in Derby’s own half and make the most of their superior ability in the air all over the pitch, with long diagonals from Ant Beddows to the right wing proving a particularly fruitful tactic.
Despite not looking troubled defensively, Oxford failed to create too many clear-cut openings, and had to wait until the 34th minute to break the deadlock, when Ezra Rubenstein latched onto Peder Beck-Friis’ flick-on to coolly slot the ball home.
After the break Derby played with renewed vigour and Oxford had to withstand some sustained pressure at the start of the half, coming through unscathed. The away side always looked dangerous on the attack, and had it not been for several clearly wrong decisions by the home linesman, the game would have been beyond doubt long before Rubenstein slotted home into an empty net after Sam Donald had squared the ball to him just before the hour.
Form then on Oxford controlled the game, with Derby becoming increasingly ragged and frustrated, resorting to blatant fouls and late tackles. Donald secured victory with a cool first-time finish after Sam Firman’s neat slide-rule pass split the defence to put the cherry on top of an efficient team performance that sees the Blues progress to the last 16 of the Cup.
Report courtesy Alex Briggs and OUAFC