Oxford United and Oldham Athletic shared the points at the Kassam Stadium as they fought out a well-contested 0-0 draw. The U's showed plenty of passion and determination but could not translate that into a goal as their search for a first win under Karl Robinson continues.
There was one change to the starting XI, with the irrepressible Ricardinho replacing Agon Mehmeti on the left of a 4-1-4-1 formation and Jon Obika leading the line and doing all he could to bring others into play. Obika was perhaps unlucky not to have an early chance when James Henry broke clear in just the fifth minute and crossed towards him; the striker certainly looked to have been held back a bit, stopping him from reaching Henry’s low cross inside the six yard box.
United were committed to the attack though and there was no doubting the workrate as they tried to open up the visiting defence, who were forced into a reshape in the 17th minute when Kean Bryan proved less than keen to continue and hobbled off with what looked like a dead leg. His defensive colleague Wilfried Moimbe was bundled over amid half-hearted penalty appeals from the away fans after 25 minutes but otherwise United’s back line were largely untroubled in the first half despite having to regroup themselves when Josh Ruffels limped out of the game after 28 minutes.
Neither keeper truly had a save to make in the first 45 minutes, the closest thing to a chance for the U’s coming when the excellent Moimbe just got a touch to a 40th-minute corner that was arrowing onto the head of Rob Dickie at the far post, and Todd Kane clearing Oldham’s one clear chance off the line at the other end when Jack Byrne let fly from 12 yards out in injury time.
United had worked tirelessly but not created many openings so drastic action was called for, with sub Isaac Buckley-Ricketts going off at half-time to allow Wes Thomas to enter the fray and join Obika up front.
United pressed for all they were worth and the excellent Dickie, who improves game on game, almost found the opener with a flying header which Latics keeper Johny Placide somehow kept out as the game slipped into the final half hour. The temperature was rising and the home fans were roaring their team on now; the noise level as high as it has been at the Kassam Stadium all season. One or two yellow cards were shown as tackles flew in (Moimbe's on Kane somewhere nearer safety-helmet level than shin pad) and it was proper end-to-end stuff, with both sides going for the win and Karl Robinson matching his team's passion from the sidelines as he implored them to get forward at every opportunity.
Oldham had more loud penalty appeals when Doyle seemed to be pushed after 74 but were increasingly penned back and having to rely on the breakaway as the Yellows launched attack after attack at them.
Credit to the Latics, who will be slightly happier with the point than United as the two sides try and pull clear of danger. United had to settle for a clean sheet and plenty of commitment but will be hugely frustrated not to have taken a win from the first of three big home games this week. Instead they turn their attention to Tuesday night when they must go again, this time against Fleetwood Town...
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels, stats by OPTA
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