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Winters leaves cold wind of discontent for City
4:27pm Monday 9th December 2013 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
WORCESTER City did themselves few favours in the Skrill North relegation battle with a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Oxford City.
Having revived their season with a series of fine displays, culminating in the FA Trophy victory at Telford, the Blue and Whites turned in an error-strewn performance at Agg-borough.
Worcester were unchanged from last Tuesday’s triumph but struggled throughout as they squandered possession and looked toothless in the final third against a robust Oxford outfit.
In doing so, they missed out on the opportunity to close the gap on 18th-placed Stockport, who are three points better off, and are only out of the bottom three on goal difference.
It also means Worcester, the league's lowest scorers, have failed to win a game this season in which they have shipped the first goal.
Normally so sound defensively, having kept 12 clean sheets this term, the Worc-ester rearguard looked edgy and unsure. They conceded twice in the space of five first-half minutes, giving themselves a mountain to climb.
The game was low on quality in the early exchanges but it was the visitors who called the shots, although their opener after 16 minutes came in fortuitous circumstances. Danger man Tom Winters took aim from the edge of the area and his left-foot effort was cruelly deflected past a helpless Jose Veiga by Matt Regan.
Worcester couldn't get a grip on the game and five minutes later they were two behind. Veiga uncharacteristically spi-lled a long ball into the box under pressure and Marvin Robinson put the ball into an empty net with the City keeper on the deck.
Oxford continued to keep their hosts on the back foot and, from one of seven first-half corners, Andy Ballard was left unmarked at the far post but failed to get a touch.
City's inability to retain the ball left them feeding on scraps with Daniel Nti, flashing a shot wide following Danny Glover's flick on, their best moment be-fore the break.
Seeking an im-mediate impact in the second period, City withdrew Aaron Wil-liams and Domin-ic Dell to throw on Niall Thom-pson and Steven Leslie.
There was certainly more urg-ency about Worcester's play but long-range efforts from Regan and Leslie didn't worry keeper Mark Scott.
Worcester’s plight was made worse prior to the hour when skipper Graham Hutchison was on the receiving end of a strong Kayden Jackson challenge. The tackle went unpunished, but the City man was replaced by Ebby Nelson-Addy.
That did little to settle City's nerves and more questionable defending allowed Winters an opening, but he blazed over.
Despite their effort, the hosts were devoid of ideas going forward and Thompson forcing Scott to save at his near post was as close as they came.
Oxford might also have add-ed a third in stoppage time, with Veiga doing well to push away Darren Pond’s drive.
But the outcome had long been secured and City will need to improve dramatically when they face Aldershot in the Trophy on Saturday.
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