Derby Men’s 1st XI 2-1 Oxford Men’s 1st XI: League Leaders Leave it Late to Secure all Three Points
Words by George Coombes
Pictures by Rob Sills
Derby Men’s First XI completed a late comeback against Oxford Men’s 1st XI to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Elijah Luka and Callum Jenkins.
A howler from Derby goalkeeper Ondrej Jacko-Lysac midway through the second half looked to have inflicted defeat on John McGrath’s men for the first time this season. His lazy play was capitalised on by Oxford’s Thealen who won the ball and slotted into the empty net, giving the visitors an undeserved lead with their only shot on target all evening.
However, the hosts showed superb spirit and determination toturn the game around and extend their lead at the top of the table.
Derby dominated the opening period but failed to find the killer final ball to break open the resolute Oxford backline. Despite their struggles, the away side came close to breaking the deadlock themselves early on, as they saw a fine free-kick in the opening stages fly inches over the bar.
It was Tomas Junek who came the closest to opening the scoring at the Sports Centre in the first half however, he saw an impressive strike from range tipped over by the keeper.
It looked to be an inevitability that the hosts would break down their opponents, however they stood firm for large periods and limited Derby to efforts from range.
After Jacko-Lysac made a complete mess of his efforts to play out from the back, it seemed as though it was going to be one of those days for the league leaders.
Fortunately for Derby’s number one, his error wasn’t to cost his team. Oxford’s goalkeeper was booked for a foul on Elijah Luka 25 yards out early in the second half, however his next foul was to prove more significant.
With seven minutes remaining, the shot-stopper parried the hosts’ effort on goal to Luka and then subsequently wiped him out, this time inside the penalty area, to give captain Callum Jenkins the opportunity to bring the home side level from the spot. The skipper did exactly that, calmly slotting into the back of the net.
Buoyed by the equaliser, they pushed on for a winner, and they showed real character with the winner coming deep into stoppage time. Junek’s delivery from the left found the head of Luka whose header beat the keeper to spark joyful scenes from the Derby contingent, saving Jacko-Lysac’s blushes in the process.
McGrath was delighted with his teams resilience from going one goal behind, stressing the importance of scoring two late goals.
“It’s huge because it shows the character of the boys. Today was a great test of character. To go 1-0 down, against a team who are going to play against you with ten men behind the ball, and win, it shows great character. The boys were brilliant, we played our football and in the end, we got our just rewards.”
Derby manager John McGrath avoided criticism of his goalkeeper’s mistake post-match, claiming he was pleased with the intentions of Jacko-Lysac.
He said: “We were sucker punched by our keeper trying to play out but that’s how I want us to play, from the goalkeeper to the centre-halves through to the full-backs. He got caught but we showed we’re a good team by scoring two late goals”.