A late goal from Jon Obika gave Oxford United back to back home wins for the first time this season as they beat Blackpool 1-0 at Grenoble Road this afternoon. Obika's seventh of the season decided a tight game and gave United revenge for a 3-1 defeat at Bloomfield Road earlier in the season.
United had the ideal opportunity to take the lead in the ninth minute when Gino van Kessel did well to close down Curtis Tilt and race clear from half way when the rebound went United’s way. Visiting keeper Christoffer Mafoumbi came out to meet van Kessel, who had Wes Thomas screaming for the ball to his right unmarked. Unfortunately at the vital moment the ball got stuck under van Kessel’s feet, allowing the keeper to delay him long enough for a backtracking defender to get involved and the opportunity to spin away merely for a corner rather than the opening goal that it should have been.
That moment seemd to unsettle United after they had made a bright opening and Simon Eastwood made a good save from a rising Sean Longstaff effort as the Seasiders searched for the opener. United were still snapping into challenges, with Ryan Ledson setting the tone although three missed ‘it’s for you’ style challenges allowed Blackpool another sight of goal on 26 minutes with Eastwood again making a good save when right back Kelvin Mellor popped up at the back post to volley at goal from eight yards.
The game had gone a little flat by that stage with neither side really seizing the initiative, Canice Carroll’s tamely hit effort after a 41st minute corner and a Ledson drive, straight at the keeper with the last kick of the half, were as close as any side came to breaking the deadlock in the first half.
The visiting fans thought their side they had scored in the 49th minute when the impressive Sessi D’Almeida planted a header wide at the back post when the goal seemingly beckoned but United then started to turn up the heat and the combination of Jon Obika and Wes Thomas started to cause problems- the latter just wide with an effort before the hour mark and the former linking things and allowing others to join the front pair from midfield.
Eastwood then proved his worth with three excellent saves. The first came from Colin Daniel and the keeper then made his best save of the day with a flying effort to tip a curling Viv Solomon-Otabor away before reacting sharply to parry another well struck drive from Clark Robertson after 73 minutes.
In the middle of those came an enforced change when skipper John Mousinho limped off with what looked like a groin problem- Mike Williamson replacing him in defence and Ryan Ledson assuming the armband- but United had hung in there and on 79 took all three points. Sub Alex Mowatt had just come on and his first touch was a free kick which Obika got to first to flick the ball beyond Mafoumbi and give his side the lead with his third goal in three games.
United had needed Eastwood's help but managed the rest of the time well to register another clean sheet as well as recording an important victory. Thomas almost made it 2-0 with eight minutes left but could only poke an effort too close to the keeper, again with men well placed alongside, but Obika's goal proved enough to seal all three points.
They now move on to face Charlton away in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday before the Family Away Day at Walsall next Saturday. See you there.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels Stats by OPTA
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