Preparations were not perfect as road works and accidents caused Lloyd’s to arrive at 3:25pm for a 3pm kick off. A team talk conducted on the coach followed by a quick warm-up and Lloyd's were off. They played keep ball for the opening 15 minutes, which took the sting out of the enthusiastic Oxford players who wanted to start with a high tempo game.
Oxford displayed high technical ability and that combined well with the instruction from their coach Martin Keown. They were hard to break down and quick on the counter attack, so the back line of Alfie Barrett, James Ishmail (Ish), Jake Barker and Simon Hayward were constantly on alert. Matt Taylor, Louis Elwood (Captain), Callum Bennett and Chris Ayres had to work hard to stifle the ever changing Oxford in midfield, which ranged in number from five to seven when their forwards dropped very deep. Up front James Lakey and Joe Pearman did well against a three man defence, but with an overcrowded midfield the service to them was limited.
It was 20 minutes before Lloyd’s made their first meaningful effort on goal. Chris in their left made a 35 yard effort which narrowly missed the far post leaving the Oxford Keeper flapping.
Simon continued to supply Chris and after 35 minutes Chris was involved again when he delivered a slide rule pass to Callum who span and played a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Louis. One on one with the Keeper it looked like Lloyd's would take the lead, but Louis' fine effort was well saved by the Keeper.
Oxford were now chasing the ball, but they were so disciplined that Lloyd's were finding it hard to take advantage of superior possession. James and Joe fell to the temptation of dropping deep, which left Lloyd’s with few attacking options at times.
The best results were coming from the wide men, Chris on the left and Matt Taylor on the right, with both getting the better of their markers. On 40 minutes Matt cut inside 30 yards out and went on a mazy run, beating four players before shooting, but his effort was blocked. Minutes later he was at it again, but this time he shot from distance and the Keeper pulled of a fine save.
0-0 at half time and the players returned to the field with a message of more of the same.
Lloyd's started the 2nd half with an impressive move involving Matt roasting the full back and pulling the ball back for Joe Pearman who's shot produced a good save from the Keeper. Lloyd's momentum was up and Chris was unlucky to see his cross blocked. Matt took the resulting corner, which was cleared and Chris kept his eye on the ball to execute a perfect volley over the Keeper and into the net from 25 yards.
Minutes later Lloyd's won the ball in midfield and Chris turned provider by chipping a 40 yard cross-field ball over the defence and into the path of Matt who produced a diving header that looped over the Keeper to make it 0-2 with 55 minutes played.
Oxford came out fighting and dominated play for a period. A change of personnel and structure saw Harry Tanner come on for Louis and Jack Bell for Simon. Lloyd’s changed formation to 3-5-2 and with Harry and Jack in midfield Lloyd's regained control and slowed the pace, using Chris and Matt to good effect.
James Lakey worked tirelessly up front and took quite a battering from the skilful, but aggressive, Oxford defenders. Joe worked the channels well and both forwards offered an option for the long ball as an outlet.
On 70 minutes Joe's superb solo run was thwarted by the impressive Oxford Keeper. Goal number 3 looked on the cards on 75 minutes as Joe played a 40 yard ball over the top to James, and his perfect first touch took the ball around the Keeper, only for a defender to nip in and clear the danger before James could finish.
Chris pulled up and was replaced Simon, who had remained warm on the side-line. This worked out well as Lloyd's broke the Oxford momentum again with possession football.
With 5 minutes remaining a comfortable victory looked on the cards. However, from an Oxford corner Kyle reacted to some shirt pulling by the Oxford Captain and the Referee awarded a penalty. Kyle was not impressed, but accepted the decision, although he had no chance with the spot kick.
Oxford seized the opportunity and went for a result, but Lloyd's had other ideas and when Harry and James combined well in the centre circle, James slipped the ball through to Joe who outpaced the defence and beat the Keeper from 15 yards. The ball hit the post, but Joe was quickest to the rebound and darted in to smash the ball into an empty net for 1-3.
A fine display and some very impressive debuts.
Man of the Match went to Callum who controlled the pace of the game throughout and helped Lloyd's dominate the midfield despite being outnumbered.
The next fixture is 22nd October, 1:45pm, against Icarus at the HAC, London