Town earn good away point in difficult conditions at Oxford

Town played out a goalless draw at the Kassam Stadium in a game that threatened to be beaten by the weather in the first-half.

Referee Tom Nield (late replacement) called a halt to the action before the half hour after persistent rain left water on the surface.

The groundstaff did some quick drainage work and play started after a lengthy break, with the wind also adding to the difficult conditions.

Alan Judge went close to breaking the deadlock, James Norwood had a penalty appeal while Will Norris kept out Josh Ruffels’ deflected effort in a game of few clear cut chances that was hindered by the elements. 

Will Keane was the only change for Town from Saturday’s win over Accrington, replacing the injured Kayden Jackson, with the game starting in horrendous conditions.

Nathan Holland sent a curler just wide after bursting through the Town midfielder, Gwion Edwards responding with a header that landed in the grateful arms of Simon Eastwood in the home goal.

Judge volleyed wide from distance, Luke Garbutt – up against the club he was on loan at last season, sent a left footer zipping past the post, then Matty Taylor was first to a free-kick but Norris dealt comfortably with his header.

Judge sent another volley flying past the post, the Republic of Ireland international going much closer with a 20 yard strike as Town threatened a breakthrough, while at the other end Blues did well to smother a goalbound effort from Taylor.

The game was delayed for 18 minutes before the half hour after referee Nield gave time for groundstaff to get rid of the surface water, Luke Chambers immediately in the action to clear from Taylor inside the box.

Norwood appealed for a penalty when he looked to get on the end of a wind-assisted ball over the top, referee Nield not giving it a second glance with the half finishing with Flynn Downes failing to get any real contact with a speculative volley from a corner.

Sam Long smashed a long range effort over as the second-half got underway with the rain falling again, Tariqe Fosu finding the sidenetting from the angle as Oxford started on a positive note.

Norris held firm from Holland’s effort, Luke Woolfenden providing the overlap down the left but Alex Gorrin spotted the danger, Chambers defending superbly to get on the end of Shandon Baptiste’s devilish free-kick.

Eastwood just beat Norwood to a ball over the top as the points remained very much up for grabs, Holland making way for Cameron Brannagan in the game’s first change midway through the half, Freddie Sears immediately joining the action as well, for Norwood.

Norris produced an excellent save to keep out Ruffels’ deflected strike, Keane almost got on the end of a cross at the back post after good work by Emyr Huws as Town searched for a late goal.

Oxford had their own late look at goal but Norris was equal to the task to punch clear from Taylor as the points were shared.

Oxford: Eastwood, Ruffels, Dickie, Rodriguez, Taylor (Mackie 89), Fosu, Long, Mousinho, Baptiste, Holland (Brannagan 68), Browne (Sykes 84). Subs not used: Stevens, Moore, Hall, Mackie, Kelly. Booked: Browne.

Town: Norris, Chambers, Woolfenden, Wilson, Edwards, Downes, Huws, Judge, Garbutt, Norwood (Sears 68), Keane.

Subs not used: Holy, Nolan, Dozzell, Skuse, Bishop, Earl. Booked: Edwards.

Att: 8191

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