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Potts marks 100th appearance for the Hatters with a 98th-minute winner

2 October 2018

Match Reports


Potts marks 100th appearance for the Hatters with a 98th-minute winner

2 October 2018

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The Hatters recorded their first away win of the season in dramatic style tonight as Dan Potts marked his 100th appearance for the club with a 98th-minute winner at Oxford United.

The Hatters spurned a host of good chances and looked like having to rely on James Collins' second goal in as many matches to rescue a point, after conceding first for the eighth time in 11 league matches when Ricky Holmes fired the struggling hosts in front just after half-time.

But Potts chose the perfect moment to net his first goal of the season on a landmark night, just a couple of minutes after having a goal disallowed for a foul in the box, to send 1,171 travelling Hatters wild as they celebrated a last-gasp winner just three days after seeing Charlton deny them three points with an injury-time goal at Kenilworth Road.

Town boss Nathan Jones made one change to his team from Saturday's draw with the Addicks, with Harry Cornick returning to the starting line-up after his first goal of the season in place of midfielder Jorge Grant.

That meant James Shea was in goal, behind a back four of Jack Stacey, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley and Dan Potts. Captain Glen Rea was anchoring a midfield that also included Andrew Shinnie and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, with Elliot Lee and Cornick in attack alongside  Collins, who had also registered for the first time this season at the weekend.

The Town are looking to make it four matches unbeaten, with a first away victory of the season the aim as Jones and his side look to improve their 12th place in the table.

Potts, making his 100th appearance for the Town, made a crucial block in the opening minute as Oxford started brightly, the Hatters left-back getting in the way of his opposite number Luke Garbutt's shot.

The Town were quickly on the front foot though, with Stacey racing to the right byline and cutting a ball back to the near post, where Collins' attempted flick was smothered by former Hatters loanee Jonathan Mitchell in the Oxford goal.

Mpanzu called the Derby loanee into action again with a curling effort from the edge of the box on 14 minutes, then Potts saw his header from the resulting corner cleared off the line by Jamie Hanson.

Lee fired another effort on goal after Potts did well to dig out a cross in the 17th minute, but Mitchell was again equal to it, then Cornick fired wide after Shinnie's low cross was cleared only as far as the edge of the penalty area by Tony McMahon.

Although the Town were dominating possession and territory, Oxford reminded Jones and his men of the threat they carried, particularly livewire striker Gavin Whyte, who cut in from the right touchline and unleashed a 25-yarder that Shea had to dive full length to turn away on 22 minutes.

Cornick was soon leading another quickfire break down the left, however, stretching his legs from midway inside his own half before playing Mpanzu inside, but the midfielder's shot was blocked before Rea sent a left-footed curler into Mitchell's arms.

Chances were coming thick and fast as the Hatters impressed, and Mpanzu found himself in a promising position again just after the half-hour when Lee fed him in the middle of the goal, 18 yards out, but he blazed his shot over the bar.

Oxford defenders were having to put their bodies on the line, and when Rea released Stacey down the right four minutes before half-time, the full-back found Lee infield and the ex-Barnsley forward's shot was rocketing towards goal when Hanson threw himself in the way to deflect the ball for a corner.

All the possession and chances created counted for nothing when the hosts took the lead in the 48th minute - the Town conceding the first goal for the eighth time in 11 league matches - when Holmes picked up the ball up midway inside the Hatters half and fired a low shot across Shea into the bottom corner of the net.

Cornick tried to lead the response, bursting into the right side of the area and unleashing a low drive that Mitchell turned behind for a corner, and the equaliser wasn't long in coming.

Potts drove into the left side of the penalty box and looked to be tripped, but Mpanzu gathered the loose ball and surged towards the byline, playing across the six-yard box to Cornick, whose stabbed effort rebounded off the bar straight to Collins, who gobbled up the opportunity of his second goal of the season from three yards out.

Garbutt had an attempt on goal for United, but it flew high over the bar, shortly before Stacey went into the book for a foul on the goalscorer Holmes.

Another glorious chance came Mpanzu's way in the 70th minute when Stacey progressed down the right again, beating his man and driving inside to cut the ball back to the edge of the box, where Mpanzu fired high over the bar and into the car park behind the goal.

The hosts were reduced to ten men when captain Shandon Baptiste was shown a second yellow card in the 72nd minute for a foul on James Justin, who had come on for Shinnie only a couple of minutes earlier, before Hanson and Rea quickly followed him into ref Michael Salisbury's notepad for late challenges as tempers started to fray.

Jones introduced Kazenga LuaLua for his debut with just over ten minutes to go, and the former Brighton winger played Stacey in again in the 86th minute, but Collins couldn't turn the right-back's low cross in at the near post and Oxford manager to avert the danger.

The Town thought they'd grabbed what would have been a deserved winner four minutes into time added on, when LuaLua arced in the left-wing cross for Potts to head home, but ref Salisbury had his whistle in his mouth for an infringement.

A couple of minutes later it was Potts whipping in a dangerous cross that just eluded both Collins and Cornick, and with that it seemed the Town's hopes of taking that elusive first away win back to Bedfordshire had gone.

We counted without that wand of a left foot that belongs to captain Alan Sheehan, who had come on to a rousing ovation from the Town fans to take a trademark mayhem-causing corner with three minutes of normal time to go, for Rea in the holding midfield role.

Inside the final minute of the eight due to be added, LuaLua was fouled on the lef touchline, Sheehan - who whipped in a delicious free-kick and Potts rose in the middle to power a header into the top corner to mark his 100th appearance in fine style.

The Hatters were taking three points back to Kenilworth Road for the first time since Yeovil away on April 7th, and were up to tenth in the table. On to Scunthorpe at home on Saturday!


TOWN: Shea, Stacey, Pearson, Bradley, Potts, Rea (Sheehan 87), Mpanzu, Shinnie (Justin 70), Lee (LuaLua 78), Cornick, Collins. Subs: McCormack, Grant, Jarvis, Isted (GK)

Goals: Collins 55, Potts 90+8

Yellows: Stacey, Rea


OXFORD: Mitchell, Garbutt, Dickie, Nelson, Hanson (Ruffels 77), Brannagan, Holmes, Whyte (Mackie 77), Obika (Carruthers 83), Baptiste, McMahon. Subs: Shearer (GK), Smith, Mousinho, Henry.

Goals: Holmes 48

Yellows: Baptiste, Hanson, Brannagan

Red: Baptiste


REFEREE: Michael Salisbury

ATT: 6,769 (1,171 Hatters)

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