Town 2 Oxford United 0
Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Mickey Demetriou, Liam Lawrence (c), Connor Goldson, Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Josh Passley, James Collins (Andy Mangan 90), Ryan Woods, Bobby Grant, Mark Ellis, Scott Vernon (Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro 90)
Subs not used: Mark Halstead, Ashley Vincent, Jordan Clark, Jermaine Grandison, Anthony Griffith
Oxford United: Ryan Clarke, Jon Meades (Alfie Potter 16), Johnny Mullins, Jake Wright (c), Danny Rose, Danny Hylton, Andy Whing (James Roberts 78), Michael Collins, Joe Riley (Chey Dunkley, 55), Wes Burns, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis
Subs: Max Crocombe, Callum O'Dowda, John Campbell, Josh Ruffels
Ref: Lee Probert
Assistants: Paul Hobday and Richard Wild
Fourth Official: Mark Mellor
Attendance: 7,502 (624 from Salop)
Micky Mellon makes the one change to his starting line-up with a switch of strikers that sees Scott Vernon come in to replace Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro who drops to the bench. Jermaine Grandison has recovered from his back problem and takes a place on the bench.
It was the home side who had the first chance of the game following a break down the left that saw the Town defence out of position, the ball was lifted to the back post but Ryan Woods had read the situation and was there with an important header and Leutwiler cleared up.
Town were getting into the game nicely and were putting in a decent performance keeping the ball and looking to build. They were passing the ball around well and finding a lot of space for Passley and Demetriou to stretch the home defence.
Town's pressure paid off with 12 minutes on the clock with a well worked goal, it started with Woods coming out with the ball and setting it to Grant on the edge of the O's box, he could have shot but chose to thread it to Vernon who had found space in the box to draw the defence and then laid it back to Collins who calmly stroked the ball past Clarke to make it 1-0 to Town.
Town got second just before the 20 minute mark and it started with some intelligent play from Vernon, he'd gone for ball but knew he was offside so let the ball run to Demetriou, Town played the ball around the U's box and it then came to Lawrence on the left-hand edge of the box, he saw options at the back post so took a touch and crossed it in and there was Mark Ellis rising high to head ball back across the goal past Clarke to make it 2-0 to Town.
At the other end Jayson Leutwiler had been having a quiet game back after Demetriou slipped it was and U's player in on goal, he hit a decent low shot in but Leutwiler was equal to it getting down quickly with a strong save and Demetriou was there to slice it back to the Town keeper.
Oxford were putting some good pressure on but Town were dealing with it well and holding the home side at bay. This meant there was space for Town to break into and they were using it well, an U's attack broke down with Bobby Grant coming away with the ball and Town were quickly away down field, he fed to Collins who was running on goal, everyone was expecting a shot but Collo threaded with through to Woods who had run in behind the home defence, he was a little off balance and took at shove from Clarke but stayed on his feet looking to get the ball back in but ran out of space.
Town were playing the counter attack game very well and when an Oxford corner was turned around and Collins came away with the ball, he continued his run over the halfway line and kept going, he broke into the O's box and drew the defence, he had options at the opposite side of the box but chose to curl a shot round Clarke but it was just wide of the target, maybe the pass would have been the better option?
Town had a great chance to end the half with another goal, Ryan Woods broke the middle and then dinked a lovely ball over the O's defence to find Scott Vernon, he controlled the ball and then curled a good looking shot that dropped just over the bar, Collins was in space at the back post and maybe that was a better option?
Town were continuing to press and create and this was causing more unrest from the home fans who were making their feelings known. Town's chances were coming but still they couldn't add to the 2-0 scoreline, firstly Scott Vernon read the flight of the ball well to find space on the edge of the box, he hit it a decent looking shot but it was deflected behind for a Town corner. Lawrence floated the ball across and Nathaniel Knight-Percival rose highest to head goal wards but it was at the crossbar and Oxford cleared their lines.
The third goal just wouldn't come Town but they were creating opening after opening and some good chances. Collins was getting good shots in on target but some heroic defending from the home side saw the score remaining at 2-0.
When Oxford did break Town were digging in and doing all they could to snuff out the danger, Bobby Grant showed this by coming across when Oxford broke and picked up a yellow card to stop their progress.
Town's chances tally must have been well into double figures but now, a ball to Vernon saw him hold it up looking for options, Grant and Passley were free down the right and Vernon fed the ball to Grant, he cut past the defender and then curled a decent shot in that was just wide, again there were options with Passley in space to Grant's right but any attacker would have taken the shot.
With the game entering added time Micky Mellon made his first changes with Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Andy Mangan on to replace James Collins and Scott Vernon.