Oxford United picked up a useful point at Portsmouth this afternoon as they drew 0-0 at Fratton Park. Some stubborn defending and a fierce determination earned the U's their draw in front of over 16,000 supporters.
United made one change, bringing Joe Skarz in as left back, from the team that beat Mansfield a week previously. Skarz immediately justified that change with a magnificent block alongside skipper Jake Wright as the pair threw themselves in front of a goalbound effort from Ryan Taylor in the third minute, the first of several great blocks from a resolute back four.
The action was a million miles an hour, Hylton testing home keeper Paul Jones with a fourth-minute effort from 20 yards out and Taylor planting a header over the bar on eight minutes as the game flowed from end to end. Ryan Clarke needed to be at his best with an excellent save at full stretch down to his left as Jed Wallace let fly from distance once more and with both sets of fans in fine voice it was a great advert for football at this level.
One flowing move from the U's on 25 ended with a Hylton cross nicked off the toe of O'Dowda at the back post as he teed up what seemed a formality, although Portsmouth's Robinson then missed the target with a header from six yards out with the goal at his mercy on the half hour.
The half ended with another excellent save from Clarke as he soared to tip a Tubbs header over the top on 41 but the U's had earned their half-time parity with a solid first 45 minutes. The second was perhaps a touch more considered as the game settled down but there was still no shortage of action.
Danny Hollands dragged an early chance wide and Wallace blazed over for the home side but United looked dangerous on the break and with over 1,200 fans roaring them forward they were very much in the game after the first hour.
Kemar Roofe was given the final quarter of the game to try and open up a well-drilled Pompey defence and the West Brom loanee did threaten to do that with some neat touches and fast runs but it was a difficult pitch for attackers and moments like a thunderous block from the faultless Wright on 82 summed up the spirit and passion of a totally committed United side.
Portsmouth stretch their unbeaten run to seven games but the Yellows continue to edge their way away from the bottom few clubs. Performances like this are all about teamwork and togetherness. Point gained, now the U's move on to Morecambe at home on Tuesday night. Together.
Report by Chris 'white and gold' Williams, Pictures by Darrell 'blue and black' Fisher
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