Match report by BILL THE BIRO

Oxford Utd 4 Pools 1 (FA Cup Round 3)
Saturday 4 January 2020
Kassam Stadium

So Shedrick and I, together with a bloke off the telly, set off from Warwickshire for the relatively short trip to the City of the Dreaming Spires, which is always a definite for me whenever Pools play there. We arrived in good time, making sure not to park anywhere near the open end of this three-sided ground.

Previously I'd always found tickets for the Kassam to be some of the most expensive in whatever division we were at the time. However, this was the FA Cup, and while Poolies weren't best pleased to have drawn only a League One club rather than a moneyspinning Premiership team, Oxford were probably even more annoyed to be playing us rather than Liverpool or Man U. All of which might explain why the tickets were unusually cheap; the two of us old-timers got in for just a fiver each, and the man off the telly could afford his tenner anyway.

After a hot chocolate from the amenity area below the usual away seating - the west end of the North Stand has to make do as the away end since the home end is the only end - we watched the players warm up. Then we were less than mesmerised by the sprinklers doing their stuff - not quite the Tivoli Gardens but better than nothing, and even watched the Red Kites flying around as the winter sun dropped, to be reflected off the car roofs.

Not having seen Pools for a while, and with hairstyles and hair colours being a bit variable these days, I didn't recognise some of the players when they came out. Obviously Kioso wasn't one of those, nor was Beeney, if only because goalies wear a different strip.

I rather proudly pointed out Kioso to my mates (who both support other clubs but came along for an afternoon out, really) saying that he's our best player, which he still was at the time.

There was a very creditable Pools turnout who were in fine voice, making you proud to be a Poolie.

The game started. It was pretty dreary really. Pools didn't do much and Oxford did even less. Then after 10 minutes Kitching found himself near the Oxford penalty area when a defensive lapse left the ball near his feet. You could see him thinking to himself "What do I do now?" Score a rather sloppy goal that should have been stopped, that's what he did.
"You could see him thinking to himself "What do I do now?""

It remained 1-0 at half time, with Pools having looked slightly the better side without being remotely impressive, but with Oxford coming more into it.

As the second half approached, and the man off the telly came back to retrieve his seat, I waved to him to show him where we were. Unfortunately someone I know thought I was waving at him, and he just happened to have some tickets for the Trust's £5 raffle. That's not to win £5, but £5 a ticket to win a holiday in some very hot place that is about number 82,473 on my bucket list. Nevertheless, (as you do) I bought one, thus using up my saving on the match ticket.

Anyway, the match resumed, and Oxford's manager had obviously had "words", resulting in a bit more action from his side, who dominated the half, punctuating it with three goals followed by a late penalty, all showing the two-divisions-and-a-bit difference between the sides.

Still, Pools had actually got to round 3 for a change, and as I'd said beforehand, anything less than a 10-0 tonking would be no disgrace. And although many Pools players didn't achieve much, my praise of Kioso was indeed justified. However, I was worried by the new goalkeeper Beeney, who may have the height, but little else, and wouldn't give any confidence to his defence.

Still, as an afternoon out, it was enjoyable, given that the result was more or less expected, and it didn't cost much, although I still haven't found out how my £5 investment worked out.

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