Oxford: 1 Simon Eastwood, 2 Christian Ribeiro, 4 Mile Williamson, 5 Curtis Nelson (c), 7 Rob Hall (18 Joe Rothwell, 58), 8 Ryan Ledson, 10 Jack Payne, 14 Josh Ruffels, 17 James Henry (20 Jon Obika 58), 21 Ricardinho, 39 Gino Van Kessel
Subs: 13 Scott Shearer, 3 Dwight Tiendalli, 6 Aaron Martin, 19 Xemi Fernandez, 35 Canice Carroll
Town: 1 Dean Henderson, 4 Ben Godfrey (14 Lenell John-Lewis 82), 5 Mat Sadler, 7 Shaun Whalley, 8 Abu Ogogo, 9 Carlton Morris (45 Stefan Payne 72), 12 Junior Brown, 13 James Bolton, 20 Jon Nolan, 22 Aristote Nsiala, 23 Alex Rodman
Subs: 15 Craig MacGillivray, 6 Omar Beckles, 10 Louis Dodds, 11 Arthur Gnahoua, 17 Ebou Adams,
Ref: Nicholas Kinseley
Assistants: Michael Webb and Matt Eva
Fourth Official: Christopher Husband
Attendance: 7120 (442)
Paul Hurst makes the one change from the side that started the home win against Rochdale last week, in comes new loan signing Ben Godfrey with Louis Dodds dropping down the bench.
Oxford were looking strong from the first whistle and were putting the pressure onto the Town goal. The ball was played around the box and switched left and right to try and find an opening but the Town defence were doing the work needed.
With just over 5 minutes on the clock Town were starting to see more of the ball around the Oxford goal. Whalley was looking dangerous, Godfrey was starting to stamp his mark on the game and the visitors were creating a number of good openings.
Town were wracking up the corners and Nsiala’s head met another good delivery from Whalley, but the header was wide of the mark.
On 20 minutes the ref had his first big decision of the game, Town defended an Oxford attack and then countered, the ball was with Nolan on the halfway line and he turned and drove downfield, Whalley had made a great run to beat the offside trap and Nolan played Whalley in, he drove for goal and was about to shoot when Ricardinho put a shoulder challenge in, Whalley went to ground but ref Kinseley was on the spot and saw nothing amiss and played on.
Town were getting some good chances and picked up another free kick in a good area. Whalley played a ball into the box to find Nolan in space, he drove a lovely low shot into the near post but Eastwood was again equal to it and got down quickly.
Town got another good chance near the half-hour mark after Whalley found the Oxford defence sleeping, he nicked the ball away and played to Morris, he played back to Whalley who had found space and he crossed to the back post, Rodman headed it down to Morris who turned and curled in a shot that was just wide of the top corner.
Oxford’s chances had dried up but they were still looking dangerous as an attacking force, a slip from Town let Van Kessel in on goal, he looked to get away but Ben Godfrey slid in with a long leg to nick the ball away and Henderson cleared down field.
Town were creating the better chances and were looking to pass the ball, they strung together a number of crisp passes, the ball was with Brown who played to Nolan he put it back to Brown who had found space, he hung up a ball into the box that Rodman looked odds on to get, but he was blocked off and Oxford managed to snuff out the danger.
Town created another good opening after a quick attack which saw Nolan play Rodman in behind the Oxford defence down the left, he held the ball up and then played it into find Morris, his first shot was blocked and the second was deflected behind for another Town corner.
Half time: 0-0
The second half started with no changes for either side.
Town carried on where the first half ended with a good attacking performance that took the game to the home side. Chances were created but Town couldn’t get that one shot that would give them the goal they deserved.
The best chance came after Nolan was played into space, his pace took him away, he had options with Morris and Whalley with him, he drove into the box and fired in a low shot that was just wide of the near post.
Oxford made a double change and that gave then a bit of a boost, they created their best opening after the ball found Obika in on goal, he shot low to Henderson’s right but the Town keeper was equal to it with a great reaction save.
There was a big decision for ref Kinseley on 65 minutes, the ball dropped outside the Oxford box and Eastwood came for it, Morris was quickly in to pressure and got a foot to the ball to turn it goal wards, it looped up high and dropped on the line, then bounced up, hit the underside of the bar and came back out, it looked like it had gone over initially but ref Kinseley and his assistant were on the spot and waved away the appeals for a goal.
Town were well on top and created another good opening after Nolan played Rodman in on goal, he hit in a good low shot that Eastwood was equal to and parried it away, but Bolton who was nearest couldn’t get to the ball to turn it home.
It was the home side grabbed the lead on 75 minutes against the run of play after Town conceded a corner. The ball came into the Town box and the visitors couldn’t clear, it bounced around and eventually came to Van Kessel who bundled the ball home to make it 1-0.
Paul Hurst made a couple of changes close to each other with Stefan Payne on for Carlton Morris, and then minutes later Lenell John-Lewis on to replace Ben Godfrey.
The changes combined well to get Town back on level terms on 82 minutes, it started with Rodman winning the ball and then getting to the by-line, he looped the ball to the back post to find John-Lewis, he got the ball down and shot, it was blocked but then there was Payne in the right place to calmly turn it home to make it 1-1.
Town had a great chance to win it in injury time after Bolton played Whalley away down the right, he took it forward and then played a lovely ball to find John-Lewis in space in the Oxford box, he cut it back to set-up Payne who shot low but somehow Nelson got in a foot to turn it behind.
It was end to end with first Oxford getting in a shot that Henderson saved well, then it was Town’s chance with John-Lewis playing in Payne but again an Oxford body got in the way to block.