Oxford City's impressive Conference North form has been based on hard work, determination and an ability to grind out a result. All of those qualities were on display at Yate Town's Lodge Road on Saturday, but from the hosts, not City.
Yate are currently bottom of the Southern League Division 1 South & West but they were deserved winners against an Oxford City side which, for whatever reason, failed to really turn up. It was a disappointing defeat for City, who have twice reached the first round proper of the FA Cup in recent seasons, and they return their focus to the league with the visit of second-placed Guiseley next weekend.
Within minutes of the kick-off it became apparent that, despite their lowly position, Yate were going to be no pushovers. The match quickly became a scrap and neither side were able to effectively assert themselves, but of the few chances that were produced the hosts had the better of them.
City might have been behind at the break if not for the quick reactions of goalkeeper Warren Carter. He got down low to his left to save a powerful header from Tom Knighton, and made another excellent reaction save from the resulting corner after the ball had pinged around the box.
City looked weak at the back and offered nothing going forward – in sharp contrast to their recent league performances, when they have generally looked defensively solid and threatening in attack. And unlike with poor first-half performances in their league outings (eg Boston United), it wasn't followed by any noticeable improvement in the second half.
Yate again started on the front foot, with shots from Knighton and Matt Groves flashing wide of the post. They finally got the goal they had threatened after 67 minutes when Danny Wring drilled the ball through a crowd of defenders and into the City net.
Things got worse for City just three minutes later when Mitchel Page doubled the lead. City failed to cut out a simple ball across the face of goal and Page was on hand to nod in from point-blank range.
City did pull a goal back with ten minutes remaining, when Andy Gunn rose to head in from a long throw. City briefly threatened to snatch an undeserved draw, but their comeback was ended when Liam Malone was dismissed for a second yellow, following an innocuous-looking challenge.
Minutes later the referee blew time on City's FA Cup campaign to loud celebrations from the home side, who will feature in the third qualifying round for the first time in their history.