I've got mixed feelings about these cup games but any kind of win would give the team a boost and we need that after Saturday's very deflating defeat. It doesn't matter how many times you hit the post as it all comes to nothing in the end and I hope all the side have had some much-needed shooting practice. Grigg is another problem altogether as after seeming to have got it together he was back to his old hesitant ways on Saturday. Too many final passes were also inaccurate in the Shrewsbury match and without a good final touch all that pressing came to nothing. No doubt we'll see a strong side this evening but with a few changes – maybe Kimpioka will have a start. Oxford are doing better than us in the league and noticeably have scored eleven more goals so I expect our defence to get a pummelling. We've been a lot looser in the earlier rounds of this competition and I have the feeling we're going to win tonight. Match prediction: 2-1 to us.
I got home five minutes before kick-off and got the match on SAFSEE. I heard that both McLaughlins (is there a collective noun?) as well as Leadbitter and Flanagan were starting while we had McGeady and McNulty upfront. We started very brightly with McNulty having a snap shot in the first minute and then we immediately won a corner. Things settled down with both sides showing that they were going for it. Commentators Barnes and Bennett were surprised that Fosu escaped a yellow-card for what seemed like an obvious dive about twelve minutes in. Not long afterwards referee Jeremy Simpson let Lynch off for a rash foul to equal things up. In the twenty-fifth minute a McNulty effort came off the post but Oxford immediately counter-attacked and went one-up through a low Hall shot from twelve yards. Gary Bennett was going spare at Lynch for giving the ball away to set up the move and suggested that sometimes he just loses the plot. In the thirty-eighth minute Leadbitter put a great chance through to McNulty but the chance went begging. Again we were creating more chances than the opposition without making anything count. Oxford won their first corner a few minutes before the break when it'd sounded like Hall was going to score again. Power missed a great chance from six yards out when McNulty set up a shot for him and that was our last effort of the half. Kimpioka had been warming up and I hoped he'd be on for the second-half as the rest of them clearly couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo.
There were no changes as we kicked off again and Oxford started the brighter with Fosu creating problems for our defence. Lynch gave a free-kick away in a dangerous position while injuring himself in the process but he recovered and we got the ball away. Five minutes in O'Nien started to warm up and I hoped to see him on too before long. Our defence were all over the place as a Baptiste shot went just wide of the post and it was really starting to feel like another defeat without us scoring. Next thing Lynch was taken off to be replaced by Grigg and we switched to 4-4-2. Just after the hour McLaughlin made a great save as he palmed away another Baptiste shot and 0-2 was looming. O'Nien replaced Hume and all too soon there were only twenty minutes to go. Yet again one of our attacks came off the woodwork as we enjoyed a good period of pressure. O'Nien was lucky that his slackness in letting Long take the ball off him at the back didn't result in a goal to them. With fifteen minutes left Kimpioka started warming up again and time was rapidly running out. We were getting plenty of corners and finally one of them paid off when McNulty spun and shot home to put us level. To be honest I wasn't sure what would happen if it remained 1-1 at full time but I imagined it would be penalties and Nick Barnes must've read my thoughts as he promptly confirmed that that would be the case. Our 1,269 fans certainly perked up. Not long afterwards both Grigg and McNulty squandered great chances as we piled the pressure on and sounded likely to nick it. Gary Bennett said Oxford should count themselves lucky to be still in the game but they were creating the odd chance, and shooting just wide in our own manner. We had a good penalty shout as O'Nien appeared to be tripped but it was waved away and we entered the dying minutes with both sets of fans serenading the ref with, “You don't know what you're doing.” There were two minutes of stoppage-time but it remained 1-1 as the whistle went and we were set for a penalty shoot-out.
The penalties took place in front of the Oxford fans and not the empty end. Oxford went first and Henry scored while first for us was Power who did likewise. Forde was second up for them and scored with McLaughlin almost getting to it. O'Nien coolly drove our second into the corner and then Fosu hit the next into the top corner. My heart sank as I heard Grigg was taking our third and this feeling was justified when he slammed it over the bar. Mackie scored their fourth and the pressure was on McNulty who had to score to keep us in it. His effort was saved by Eastwood and we were out. I suppose the way our finishing has been it was asking too much to expect us to win a shoot-out.