After a poor showing in the FA Cup at the weekend, the Magpies were glad that an opportunity to put some things right wasn't long in coming as Oakwood visited Plaistow Road in the SCFL Peter Bentley League Cup on Tuesday night.
Manager Mark Beard made a couple of changes with Eddie French returning at the back in place of Clyde Jacques, Harry Bachelor replacing the injured Adam Williams and a new front two combination with Michael Wood and Toby House exchanging places with Mark Cave and Cecil Jee.
Despite it being a balmy Summer's evening it was obvious that the hosts weren't in the mood to take things sedately. In only the 2nd minute Olly Gill made some space on the edge of the box before unleashing a shot that the 'keeper could only parry. The ball wasn't pushed to safety though and Wood showed excellent anticipation and got to the ball first to force it in for the opener and his first goal of the season.
Gill didn't have to wait long to have more joy in front of goal though. 9 minutes later he exchanged a swift 1-2 with Bachelor on the edge of the area and he held off the challenge of the defender to poke the ball past the 'keeper from 15 yards to double the lead, and it was no more than the hosts deserved at that stage.
The positive play going forward continued, with the ball being moved between the team far quicker than in recent matches and with more penetrating movement, chances aplenty were being created but the visitors, to their credit, defended resolutely and blocked numerous efforts. This determination was being matched in their own possession as they began to cause their own problems for defenders with swift play into the channels, forcing a number of corners and efforts from distance, but Sam Smith in the Loxwood goal was rarely stretched.
In fact it was Smith who had large part to play in blunting the momentum that was building as in the 35th minute, after claiming the ball, he swiftly drove the ball long to House who was able to isolate the right centre back and drive into the area before curling home his first competitive goal for the Club into the far corner.
Just as the half appeared to be drawing to a close, the Magpies created two clear opportunities in the last 60 seconds. Firstly Tom Summerfield cleverly set Gill away down the right channel and he did well to square the ball to Bachelor on the edge of the box, but his snap-shot flew just over. The almost immediately House wriggled free down the right channel of the penalty box but as the angle became ever tighter he too blazed his shot over the bar.
The second half got off to a sluggish start, with neither side really threatening in their respective attacking thirds. However in the 56th minute Oakwood injected some life into the game. Some good wide play down the right resulted in a ball across the area that made its way to the far post where the ball was dispatched back across Smith from 12 yards out to make it 3-1.
This sparked the hosts back into life though and just two minutes later Bachelor was again at the centre of things as he seized the initiative in the centre of the park and drove forward before slipping House away. The young forward kept his composure in the face of a rapidly closing 'keeper and defender and stroked the ball home (above) to restore the three goal advantage and double his own tally.
Oakwood weren't discouraged though and in the 61st minute they took advantage of a soft free kick being given away to the right of the penalty area. The delivery was square to the near post where the advancing player guided the ball delightfully inside the near post to make the advantage just 2 goals again.
The attacking endeavour of the hosts wasn't to be diminished though and House in particular was causing a great deal of concern for the Oakwood back line. In the 68th minute he got away again but a last-ditch challenge prevented the shot troubling the goal. The resulting corner, however, saw another chance for the young striker. As the ball came through, he found himself unmarked 6 yards out but his guided header was well cleared with the ball being adjudged to have not crossed the line.
He didn't have to wait much longer before completing his hat-trick though. In the 72nd minute Byron Napper switch play in the centre of the pitch and drilled the ball out to Wood on the right flank. After driving forward 20 yards, Wood delivered an exquisitely directed low cross that passed between 'keeper and defence to find House at the far post and he duly finished the move by firing left footed high into the net to effectively seal the game at 5-2.
As the visitors began to tire in the latter stages, more chances came to inflate the scoreline further, but substitute Rhyam Ramsey was off target on the two occasion he cut in from the left and Gill's quickly taken free kick just evaded the far post with the 'keeper rooted as he arranged his wall. Centre Backs Lewis Scally and Joel Colbran even got in on the attacking action with the former failing to get enough purchase on his shot after he worked space for himself and the latter hammering a header off the bar before he had a free kick whistle just past the post. The match somehow finished without any further goals though and the Magpies safely advanced to the last 16 of the competition where they will host Lingfield, provisionally on Tuesday 11 October.