Cambridge 0 Oxford 0Oxford United and Cambridge United fought out a tough 0-0 draw this afternoon at the Abbey Stadium. In a hard-fought game there was no shortage of effort but defences came out on top as Michael Appleton's side continuted their excellent away run.
Chris Maguire, who took a shot at goal from kick-off, returned on the left wing, just outside Josh Ruffels who stepped into the side once John Lundstram’s red card appeal was dismissed. The other change was Jordan Bowery partnering Kemar Roofe up top, and Bowery showed his power with a ninth-minute run down the left wing that ended in a powerful shot that flew well over the bar.
Cambridge skipper Luke Berry steered a couple of early headers wide and looked the most likely man to force a breakthrough in the first half, although he should have done better than thump a third effort wide from a from a corner.
A blustery wind made it difficult for both sides and as a result the visiting U’s were more direct than usual as they tried to get Bowery in behind the home U’s defence. Johnny Mullins’ afternoon lasted just 19 minutes until he limped off after a typically brave tackle had left him limping but replacement Sam Long did well on his return on the right of a defence that looked strong throughout, Jake Wright typifying the attitude with one outstanding block to throw himself in front of a shot. When they did for once look vulnerable after 31 minutes Berry could only scoop wide from ten yards out, but 0-0 at the break was probably about fair.
Maguire nearly fund the elusive first goal two minutes into the second half, beating two men then drilling just wide from 20 yards out, as his side started the second half with greater purpose. A scramble on 55, created by Dunkley attacking the ball in typical style, was hacked away by the grateful Cambridge defence after Long had tried his luck and a poked effort from Alex MacDonald on 67 forced home keeper Norris into a comfortable save as the Reds began to press.
Spencer and Berry had efforts from distance without unduly worrying Benji Buchel, while at the other end it took three men to stop Ruffels in his tracks after 74 as he powered his way into the box. There were penalty shouts at each end: sub Danny Hylton convinced he had been fouled and then loud claims for a handball at the other end 30 seconds later, but both sets of defenders had earned their clean sheets despite late pressure from Michael Appleton's side.
A decent point away from home for an Oxford side who have only lost twice on the road all season. They remain in second as they take a short break from league action for the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final.
See you at Wembley
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Darrell Fisher
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