Accrington 0 United 0. Full time report
United remain unbeaten on the road but had to settle for a point at Accrington today despite creating a host of chances in the second half.
Unchanged from the side that beat Northampton, there was one tweak, with David Hunt further forward on the right and Johnny Mullins at right-back in a 4-4-2 shape that moved Sean Rigg to his more familiar left-wing role in the first half.
The home side had come close to their first win of the season against Wimbledon the previous Saturday and started confidently despite their 92nd place standing. There wasn’t a great deal to trouble keeper Ryan Clarke in the first 20 minutes behind the well-drilled United defence in their Isinglass purple shirts. Kal Naismith flashed one effort wide but Danny Rose fired over from similar range at the other end after 19 minutes as the sides sparred in the late autumn sunshine.
A 25th minute free kick from the excellent Rose clipped the top of the net but as the game opened up it took an excellent save from Clarke to keep out a low shot from Naismith two minutes later, the keeper’s boot keeping the ball out close to his left-hand post.
The closest we came to a first-half goal was on 35 as a fine free kick in from Hunt was headed goalwards by James Constable to force home keeper Marcus Bettinelli into a plunging save to his left. It wasn’t the cleanest connection by the United striker but came as the U’s ended the half on top.
The only worrying sign for United was Mullins landing awkwardly as he tried to flick on a header just before the break and his second half only lasted two minutes before he was forced off to be replaced by Ryan Williams. The on-loan Fulham winger was soon in the action with a 52nd minute drive after good approach play by Constable and with Williams doing well on the right wing the instructions were simple; feed the Aussie.
The change gave United new energy and the second half became a catalogue of chances as they pushed Accrington back. The man on the other wing, Rigg, cut inside and drove a shot into the side netting on 59 minutes and gradually United were the side getting on top.
Hunt with a free kick and Constable with a shot both forced blocks, both with defenders' hands from our angle. The chances were starting to come and on 67 Newey’s inviting cross was met by Kitson’s forehead but the striker’s downwards header was a yard wide of the mark.
Hunt hurled a long throw in on 70 which Raynes headed goalwards but found Bettinelli perfectly placed. The on-loan Fulham keeper then made a fine save down to his right as Rigg fired in another good effort and with the home side's early promise fading it was becoming one-way traffic. Credit to Accrington, whose spirit and work ethic may well get them out of the trouble that they find themselves in at this stage of the season, but it took another very good save from the over-worked Bettinelli on 79 to keep out a Raynes header after another long throw from Hunt. The keeper was Man of the Match; enough said.
The home side will arguably be happier with the point but United rarely looked like losing and they remain a very hard side to beat on the road.
They now return to the Kassam Stadium on Tuesday night to take on Exeter City. Be there.
Report by Chris Williams pictures by Darrell Fisher, stats by OPTA
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