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Oxford City 1
UNITED slipped to their first defeat of the season after a debateable Rob Sinclair goal proved the difference on the artificial surface at Oxford City.
The Gulls were punished for a lacklustre first period and, while there was definite improvement after the break, Oxford held on for the three points.
In a quiet start to the game, there was definitely an early pattern of Oxford pressing United into mistakes and making it very difficult to find any rhythm in the attacking third.
Reece Fleet fired a shot narrowly over for the home side but United responded with Jean-Yves Koue Niate hitting the net, quickly ruled out for offside against the big Frenchman.
The decisive goal came just after the half-hour and Sinclair stooped to score from close-range, but the vociferous and instant calls for offside from the United players suggested a strong claim for the flag to be raised.
Former Gull Joe Oastler almost doubled the deficit on the stroke of half-time and United boss Gary Owers made his feelings known at the break by withdrawing Ruairi Keating and Jason Banton for Bobson Bawling and Jamie Reid.
Bawling was immediately into the action, very close to reaching a Brett Williams flick. Bawling then returned the favour and an instant 30-yard strike from Williams cannoned against the crossbar.
This was the period when United had to score, as Samir Nabi clipped the outside of the post with a curler and Oxford were rocking.
Frustratingly, the momentum slowly died and the closing minutes were more huff and puff than genuine opportunities. Andre Wright came on for the last 10 minutes but he was also unable to salvage an equaliser.
We move swiftly on to Slough on Saturday.
United: Shaun MacDonald; Asa Hall, Jean-Yves Koue Niate, Kyle Cameron; Ben Wynter, Jason Banton (Bobson Bawling H-T), Samir Nabi, Ryan Dickson, Liam Davis; Ruairi Keating (Jamie Redi H-T), Brett Williams. Substitutes (not used): George Burton (GK), Chris Regis