Oxford United might be a League Two side but they put in a performance that was a league apart to beat Swansea City at the Kassam Stadium.
On a weekend of near-misses for the underdog, Michael Appleton’s side delivered a performance of compelling quality, with Kemar Roofe bagging a brace on an afternoon when he ran Swansea ragged.
Oxford United 3-2 Swansea City
Emirates FA Cup third round
Sunday 10 January 2016
Winning sides receive £67,500 from The FA prize fund
Swansea had led early on through Jefferson Montero’s neat finish, but Liam Sercombe’s penalty was followed by Roofe’s second-half double, and not even Bafetembi Gomis’s goal for the Swans could dent the resolve of a side bent on a place in the Emirates FA Cup fourth round.
These are days of great hope for Oxford who – like their resident celebrity fan Timmy Mallett – were a big deal in the 1980s but are short of attention these days.
Mallett predicted a 1-0 win for Oxford – but could hardly have envisaged such a knockout blow.
Like all Cup ties between sides of different divisions, there was intrigue as to how a team struggling in the top flight would compare with Oxford, third in the fourth tier and clearly going places under Appleton.
And the early evidence suggested that the Us were more than capable of giving Alan Curtis’s outfit a challenging afternoon at a frosty Kassam Stadium.
In John Lundstram, Oxford had a former England Under-20s midfielder who turned down a deal at Everton in favour of regular football while second striker Roofe has been a revelation since joining permanently from West Bromwich Albion in the summer, scoring 16 goals.
They were bright in possession, playing with real tempo and poise.
In contrast, Swansea looked shaky and slipshod, and Kristoffer Nordfeldt was peppered by Oxford shots, with Chris Maguire, Ryan Taylor and Roofe all going close.
Indeed the Swans paid their opponents the ultimate compliment by playing on the counter-attack for the whole game, and it came as a real surprise when they took the lead.
And it was a goal of real quality, as Montero darted in from the left, played a one-two with Marvin Emnes, before flicking the ball home at the near post, with a pirouetting, backheeled finish.
It was wholly undeserved, but Oxford carried on regardless and had their reward just before half time, when Kevin Friend awarded them a penalty after Kyle Bartley lunged in on Alex MacDonald. Sercombe hammered home from the spot.
After the break Oxford continued to press, with Maguire firing well over when the ball fell invitingly, but they found their reward on 48 minutes, when Roofe dashed in off the left flank to fire home from the edge of the area.
Then Roofe really underlined his quality, showing remarkable pace through the centre of a scrambling Swansea defence, slipping the ball through and beyond Nordfeldt. Roofe was on fire and the roof came off the Kassam.
Swansea grabbed one back, when the largely anonymous Gomis slipped through in the left channel to score amid suspicions of offside.
But Oxford showed no intention of sitting back, went close again through substitute Callum O’Dowda, and held out for a famous victory.
Oxford United (4-4-1-1): Sam Slocombe; George Baldock, Johnny Mullins, Jake Wright (captain), Joe Skarz; Alex MacDonald, John Lundtsram, Liam Sercombe, Chris Maguire; Kemar Roofe; Ryan Taylor.
Substitutes: Callum O’Dowda for MacDonald 71, Danny Hylton for Taylor 80, Pat Hoban for Roofe 8.
Substitutes not used: Benji Buchel, Josh Ruffels, Cheyenne Dunkley.
Goals: Sercombe 45pen, Roofe 49, 57.
Swansea (4-2-3-1): Kristoffer Nordfeldt; Liam Shephard, Kyle Bartley (captain), Jordi Amat, Franck Tabanou; Jack Cork, Jonjo Shelvey; Marvin Emnes, Matty Grimes, Jefferson Montero; Bafetembi Gomis.
Substitutes: Stephen Kingsley for Tabanou 60, Modou Barrow for Grimes 77.
Substitutes: Gerhard Tremmel, Eder, Stephen Kingsley, Dan James, Jay Fulton, Modou Barrow, Joe Rodom.
Goals: Montero 23, Gomis 66.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
Emirates FA Cup highlights: Oxford United 3-2 Swansea City