Pools’ Cup Journey Ends At Oxford

Oxford United v Hartlepool United, The Kassam Stadium

Pools were knocked out of the FA Cup at The Kassam Stadium on Saturday as Oxford United recovered from a goal down to book their place in Round Four.

Mark Kitching gave Dave Challinor’s a perfect start when he fired Pools in front inside ten minutes with an opportunistic finish and there were other chances during a closely fought first half.

However, the hosts showed why they’re among the favourites for promotion to League One this season by producing a classy second half display and roaring back to win the tie.

Dave Challinor made three changes for the game, bringing back Fraser Kerr, Gus Mafuta and Mark Kitching in place of Gime Toure and the cup-tied duo Gary Liddle and Mark Shelton.

After a really scrappy start, the cup tie burst in to life on nine minutes when some miscommunication at the back allowed Kitching to steal in and slot a composed finish past the helpless Oxford keeper Jordan Archer.

That gave the brilliant travelling support even more to sing about as Pools continued to look a threat when they moved forward and Gavan Holohan had a half-chance to make it 2-0 when he wriggled in to space twenty yards out but then struck a shot straight at Archer.

As the half wore on, the hosts began to enjoy more possession and build some momentum, the dangerous Shandon Basptiste seeing a powerful shot deflected wide and Rob Hall flashing another effort just past the post.

Despite dominating the ball, Oxford were struggling to break down a resolute Pools rearguard and there remained moments where Challinor’s men looked to punish them on the counter.

Pools could even have gone further in front in first half injury time when Kitching got in to the area again where he appeared to be nudged over but Referee Salisbury was unmoved.

It proved a critical moment because just seven minutes in to the second half Oxford were level. Rob Hall superbly turned inside from the right and curled an inch-perfect shot in to the bottom left-hand corner to leave Beeney with no chance.

Karl Robinson’s men began to completely boss possession and could have increased their lead on a couple of occasions as they penned Pools in their own half.

The second goal duly arrived midway through the second half and it was a wonderful solo goal from Baptiste who danced his way through three challenges before providing a clinical finish.

Challinor had to gamble and the introduction of Tyler Hamilton gave Pools another outlet but they remained under pressure and Beeney saved well to prevent Oxford substitute Matty Taylor from making it 3-1.

However, the third goal came six minutes from the end as Fabio Loopez scuffed a shot across goal which landed fortuitously at the feet of Fosu and U’s skipper gratefully made it 3-1 from close range.

Fosu was then felled in the area a couple of minutes later as things got worse for Pools and Taylor rammed an emphatic penalty in to the roof of the net to secure Oxford’s win and safe passage in to the next round.

Full Time: Oxford United 4 Pools 1

Pools: Beeney, Kioso, Kerr, Raynes (Molyneux 83), Richardson (Hamilton 70), Kitching, Featherstone, Mafuta, Donaldson, Holohan, Kabamba (Toure 65).
Subs not used: Killip, Cunningham, Kennedy, Grey.

Booked: Mafuta, Kerr.

Oxford United: Archer, Ruffells, Moore, Dickie, Gorrin, Hall (Agyei 80), Fosu, Long, Baptiste (Lopez 83), Sykes, Mackie (Taylor 65).
Subs not used: Stevens, Mousinho, Jones, Goodrham.

Booked: Dickie.

Attendance: 6,240 (779 Poolies).

Referee: Michael Salisbury.