KABBY Tshimanga’s sensational hat-trick was not quite enough to secure City a memorable Emirates FA Cup 1st round win at Tranmere as the Merseysiders hit back twice to snatch a late draw at Prenton Park.
But City can be so proud of this performance, which earns them a lucrative home replay against Tranmere.
City more than matched their high-flying Sky Bet League Two hosts, and were without a doubt unfortunate not to have gone through at the first attemot.
Tranmere went in front on 33 minutes when Paul Mullin broke down the right, putting a ball in to Connor Jennings, who collected the ball on the edge of the box to drill into corner.
The lead did not last long. Joe Oastler’s strong challenge saw the ball find it’s way through to Tshimanga, who raced onto the loose ball, rounding keeper Scott Davies and firing into the far corner.
City were dominant for long periods of the second half, forcing Davies into a number of saves.
And they went in front in incredible fashion as Tshimanga showed a brilliant burst of pace into the box, held his nerve as Davies advanced to fire in a vicious shot into the bottom corner.
City, looking increasingly confident, nearly made it 3-1 as Udoka Godwin-Malife set up McEachran, who dragged the ball just wide.
City pressed and harried Tranmere, restricting them to half chances and long-range efforts, much to the frustration of the home side.
Against the run of play, however, Tranmere levelled with only their second attack.
Ollie Banks, curled a cross in from the right touchline, found the head of Jennings, who planted home his second of the game.
But it wasn’t finished. Tshimanga completed his treble with just eight minutes left.
McEachran, who had been really impressive, scrambled a ball into the box, and as Tranmere struggled to get the ball clear, Tshimanga bundled in from close range.
City, though, were denied their dream result with one minute remaining.
A free-kick awarded 30 yards out on the right was curled in to the bank by Banks, where James Norwood was on hand to fire into the opposite corner to give the hosts an unlikely, and undeserved lifeline.
Tranmere: Davies, Buxton, McNulty, Monthe, Harris (Gilmour), Mullin (Tollitt 45), Norwood, Jennings, Carpice, Banks, Cole (Smith 56).
Oxford City: King, Godwin-Malife, Jefford, Ashby, Musonda, Oastler, Nombe (Jones 90), Fleet, Tshimanga, McEachran, Wiltshire.
Subs not used: Caro, Fasanmade, Bawling, Otudeko, Carter.