Oxford United moved into the FA Cup second round with a 2-0 victory over a stubborn Hayes & Yeading of the Southern League Premier.
In an entertaining, end-to-end game, the League One visitors scored a goal in each half, through Sam Long and Rob Hall, to put the side 109 places below them in the pyramid out of sight.
Initially, the visitors threatened to run amok, as Tariqe Fosu hit the bar before Long’s header, from a corner that the hosts failed to clear, opened the scoring in a one-sided first half.
The second half was much more open as the hosts created several chances, Joe Grant trying a clever back-heel and Ogo Obi forcing a tip-over from Simon Eastwood.
However, Oxford grabbed the vital second goal when a smart interchange of passes put substitute Hall in behind and his cool dink over goalkeeper Jack Smith sailed into the corner.
Visiting keeper Eastwood again foiled Obi when he saved his shot from inside the box, and the stopper also had to be alert to palm away Hassan Jalloh’s goal-bound header as the home side chased a comeback.
Hall’s shot brushed a post late on which kept the score to a respectable 2-0, as Karl Robinson’s Oxford moved through to round two for the seventh time in their past eight attempts.
Nine years ago these two sides were in the same division – the old Conference Premier – where the now lower-league Hayes & Yeading did the double over Oxford.
The two clubs have gone their separate ways since – Oxford up two divisions and their hosts down two – but this was no cruise for the higher-level side despite that imbalance.
Yet there was to be no fairytale, in what was Hayes & Yeading’s eighth game of a marathon run, which started on 24 August, to the first round proper.
They exit the competition having amassed £44,120 in prize money, plus a healthy share of the gate receipts from a 1,501 crowd.