Oxford United's under-18s played one of their games in hand this afternoon at home to Newport County. Despite dominating the game the U's were unable to make the breakthrough, with the Newport goal living a charmed life.
After a scrappy first few minutes, United took the initiative and began to turn the screw. Owen James had the best opportunity to break the deadlock midway through the half when he found himself with just the keeper to beat. However, the Newport custodian didn't commit himself and got down well to save James' shot.
Just after the half-hour mark a smart lob from Albie Hopkins was volleyed goalwards first time by James Cowan but once again the keeper was equal to it, turning the ball over the bar.
Oxford started the second half in determined mood and Ryan Crooks set up Hopkins, whose goalbound effort was blocked by a resolute Newport defence. Four minutes later James latched on to a long clearance by Niall Clayton but pulled his shot just a foot wide of the post with just the keeper to beat.
With 20 minutes remaining Hopkins should arguably done better with an opportunity but once again the keeper pulled off a good save to turn his shot around the post.
The Newport goalie made his best save with ten minutes remaining when he denied substitute Slavi Spasov's close-range header to concede another corner. Two minutes later Crooks let fly from just outside the area, his shot smashing against the Newport crossbar.
United almost got the goal they deserved in stoppage time when another Spasov header hit the post. However, the visitors were able to see out the game to share the points.
United will be wondering how they could have had so many opportunities without scoring but the point is enough to lift Oxford above Bristol Rovers into fourth place, while still having a couple of games in hand on most of the teams above them.
United: Clayton, Carr, Baker, Berry-Hargreaves, Chilcott (Mannings 67), Hopkins, Heap, Crooks, McCreadie, Cowan (Spasov 74), James