Oxford United were forced to settle for a point at Yeovil this afternoon as they fought out a 0-0 draw at Huish Park. The Glovers, bottom of the table, were forced to dig deep for their draw as the U's racked up over 20 shots at goal in a game where all that was missing was the finishing touch.
There were two changes to the team, Johnny Mullins
coming in for Chey Dunkley
in defence and Callum O’Dowda returning to the wing to allow Kemar Roofe
to move to the centre in place of the injured Chris Maguire
. Roofe had the first effort of the afternoon with a low shot on the turn that was comfortably held by home keeper Artur Krysiak but Yeovil started well and almost turned the league table on its head with three good chances in the first quarter of the game, their best period of the match.
Darren Ward sent the first one over the top with a free header over the bar after 12 minutes from the first of several well-directed set pieces. The lively Josh Sheehan then took advantage of plenty of space on the edge of the box to crack an effort against the bar with Sam Slocombe
beaten on 18 minutes and then striker Shaun Jeffers raced clear but couldn’t beat the diving Slocombe at full length on 21.
Having ridden their luck a little United came on strong and an Alex MacDonald
cross on 24 was met by the diving O’Dowda who guided his header back across the keeper but wide of the right-hand post. That lifted the U's who began to find their more usual rhythm and dominate the game. Roofe ended a good move with another low shot on 31 that Krysiak did well to tip round the post before the three best chances of the half all came United's way in stoppage time.
First, O’Dowda planted a free shot from 15 yards well wide of the mark, swiftly followed by Taylor placing his shot into the arms of Krysiak from similar range a minute later. Incredibly there was still time for Roofe to sweep a shot wide of the left hand post: the third unmarked United player to miss the mark inside two minutes.
The second half began in identical fashion when Krysiak saved well from the unmarked Roofe and then recovered to take Taylor's follow up volley. Taylor then guided a header across the face of goal from a Baldock cross on 51 as the U's, in their red and black kit, tried desperately to make one of their chances count. It almost came from the unlikeliest of sources when skipper Jake Wright
, well past the 250 appearance mark now, chased down a header from Chey Dunkley
but found the overworked Krysiak diving bravely at his feet to deny him a first goal.
It was all Oxford by now as the Glovers clung on for their point. Roofe forced Krysiak into yet another good save on 63, Sercombe's feet were taken from under him as he lined up another effort on 68 and then an almighty scramble on 71 saw three further chances smuggled away and the ball in the gloves of Krysiak while O'Dowda slid in to try and force the loose ball home.
Sercombe turned full circle on 80 but lost his bearings and fired over the bar from 12 yards, then fizzed United's 20th shot of the afternoon right across goal from the right side of the box. Credit to Yeovil, who showed far more fight and commitment than in the two previous meetings this season, but the Glovers had been hanging on by their fingertips for most of the second half and celebrated to a great ovation at the final whistle.
Contrasting targets for the two clubs for 2016, one side looking to get out of the division the other fighting to stay in it. For the U's this was a point earned the hard way, but you take a draw on the road and move on.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Darrell Fisher. Stats by OPTA
See Highlights and reaction in Yellow Player HD