Oxford United 2 Peterborough United 1
Oxford United grabbed their first League 1 win in 16 years as Chris Maguire's injury time penalty sealed a 2-1 win over Peterborough this afternoon. Wes Thomas's goal in the first few seconds of the second half gave United the advantage but Peterborough pegged them back through Tom Nichols before Maguire kept his cool to score from the spot and give the U's all three points.
After two away defeats Michael Appleton shook things up a little, moving Joe Skarz into the centre of defence, Josh Ruffels in at left back, Thomas into the attack and handing loan signing Phil Edwards a debut at right back. The Burton loanee had a fine debut and impressed straight away with some determined tackling and a willingness to support his former Brewers teammate Alex MacDonald down the right flank.
It was Ruffels on the other side of the pitch who set up Kane Hemmings for the first chance of the game, the former Dundee striker unable to guide his header on target in the 11th minute, and when Hemmings had another effort blocked a minute later the U’s were starting to build up a head of steam. Much of it was coming from the hard-working Maguire who ghosted past players at will and sprayed passes to all areas from his nominal left-wing role.
The Posh, fresh from a 5-1 win over Millwall, had a shot from skipper Chris Forrester fly harmlessly into the hands of Simon Eastwood on 19 but the keeper was forced into more serious action on 28 to tip a Gwion Edwards drive over the bar as the U’s failed clear their lines.
There were crosses and half chances that caused problems at both ends in the rest of the first half, Posh earning two free kicks that didn’t really threaten to break the deadlock, although the second laid out the brave Edwards as he blocked a Taylor thunderbolt with his face!
That stout defending paid off as United stormed out of the blocks to take the lead after just 13 seconds of the second half. Maguire was the architect, driving at the defence and slipping the ball to his right. Thomas took one touch to create room while turning then sent the ball beyond keeper Alnwick via a deflection from the outstretched leg of defender Jack Baldwin. Two goals in two league starts for Thomas and an invaluable first goal of the afternoon for the U's.
Skipper John Lundstram sent two efforts just off target and United had grown in confidence after that opening goal, playing some neat football and pressing the Posh back. However, they had needed Eastwood to be at his best to save at the feet of Anderson and the visitors had been threatening to pull a goal back. Just after the hour they were level when Nichols worked his way into the area, dinked the ball to one side then hammered it into the roof of the net, giving Eastwood no chance of seeing the ball, let along saving it. It was probably a fair reflection of the game but had come during United's best spell of the match.
The Yellows threw men forward to try and regain the lead and Dunkley's back-post header produced a pile up on the goal line with half-a-dozen people hacking at legs to try and force it home through the ruck of bodies. Maguire had a free kick and shot from distance, Sercombe found the side netting on 83 but only the alertness of Eastwood, plunging to his right in the 87th minute, spared the blushes of the otherwise excellent Ruffels as he sliced a clearance that was creeping into his own net until Eastwood got a giant hand on the ball right on the line.
That was vital. Into injury time and sub Ryan Taylor's clever flick sent Maguire free. He was felled by Baldwin who was sent off as ref Stockbridge pointed to the spot. Up stepped Maguire. Never in doubt!
The season starts here..,
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Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Daniels/Darrell Fisher, stats by OPTA
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