REPORT Oxford United v Accrington
Oxford United were beaten 2-1 by Accrington Stanley at a blustery Kassam Stadium this afternoon. Leading when top scorer Kemar Roofe flicked home a Chris Maguire cross before the break, United were pegged back by a Billy Kee header just 19 seconds into the second half and then beaten by a Scott Brown effort three minutes from time, after the visitors had been reduced to ten men.
The U's started well enough. Alex MacDonald skidded a second-minute effort wide after a decent build up before Maguire smacked a free kick from the edge of the box against the cross bar a minute later. Maguire, playing up front alongside Jordan Bowery linked things together neatly for the U’s as the first ten minutes were played almost exclusively in the Accrington half, helped by a strong wind at the Yellows' backs.
That wasn’t for want of attacking intention from the visitors, who passed the ball around neatly all day and began to grow into the game after those early moments, but they still hadn’t really threatened when after 28 minutes United found a way through. Maguire drifted to the left and whipped in a low cross. Roofe did the right thing and got across his man, between defence and keeper, and got the faintest of touches to take the ball beyond keeper Ross Etheridge for his 20th of the season. Both players had claims for the goal but Roofe's shouts were loudest.
Accrington looked to bounce back, and the dangerous Sean McConville had a 25-yard effort saved by Buchel on 33, but United should have doubled their lead on 37 when a magnificent reverse pass from Roofe sent Bowery on his way past the last man, only for the striker to be too deliberate with his finish and allow Etheridge to save.
Accrington were still in the game and McConville again went close with a rising effort on 40 that struck the bar, but 1-0 at the break was probably fair, whoever scored.
However, Accrington used the elements much better after the interval and just 19 seconds into the second half we were all square again. A quick break down the left allowed McConville to cross and Kee was at the back post to power a header down and past Buchel to make it 1-1.
Now wind assisted, Stanley were much more dangerous. United were struggling to adapt their game to the conditions and too many passes were going astray from both sides as the game became scrappy. Buchel needed to be assured in his handling from a couple of long-range efforts from Accrington, although he was grateful that the wind took a Brayden Shaw effort on to the roof of the net after 80 to deny the sub a debut goal.
United looked to have been handed a lifeline on 83 when sub Callum O'Dowda skipped past centre-half Tom Davies, who stepped across his path and accepted his second yellow of the afternoon, but the ten men of Accrington dug deep and on 88 stole the points as Brown was granted the freedom of the area and drilled a low shot past the despairing dive of the horribly exposed Buchel.
United have had a frustrating week and two home defeats were certainly not part of the script. They remain in third but now move on to away games at Exeter and Wimbledon, where they need to respond quickly.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Daniels, stats by Opta
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