Oxford United's unbeaten record continued with a draw at Scunthorpe this afternoon but one point could so easily have been three after they let a three-goal lead slip away. Comfortably on top after goals from James Henry, Cameron Brannagan and Curtis Nelson, United conceded three times in six crazy minutes to come away with a draw in a town they haven't won at since 1965.
United, unchanged in selection but changed in colour back to yellow and blue instead of anniversary orange, have made a habit of scoring early goals in recent weeks and after just eight minutes were ahead. Tony McMahon started the move, Brannagan continued it and Jamie Mackie smuggled the ball on to Henry who blasted home from the edge of the box to give the U’s a priceless lead.
They were full value for it as well, with Gavin Whyte adding another full back to his ever-expanding list of people he has rampaged past: Matt Lund booked for bringing him down one time and a drive going just past the far post on 22 as he once again outpaced the home defence. With Ricky Holmes also in impish mood and Mackie perpetual motion, United were looking dangerous up front while midfield trio Mousinho, Brannagan and Henry had a firm grip on the game.
Scunthorpe saw plenty of the ball without really getting a clear sight of Simon Eastwood’s goal in the first half; a couple of stabbed efforts went straight to the United keeper without him having to move and their five-game losing streak had seemingly drained confidence away.
United on the other hand were in no mood to end their unbeaten run at five games, and five minutes in to the second half they were 2-0 up as Brannagan netted their 3,000th Football League goal. Mackie was again the man to lay the foundations, holding the ball and freeing Henry, so often the architect. He held off his man and crossed low and Brannagan was on hand to joyously thump the ball home from close range in front of the ecstatic travelling Yellow Army.
Nelson then made it 3-0 and surely game over when a McMahon corner wasn't cleared and Nelson ignored the flying boots to stab home a goal that must surely mean United’s first victory in Scunthorpe in over 50 years?
Sadly, the home side had other ideas. Sometimes a whole season turns on one moment, one goal, or in this case one six-minute spell that wiped away any thoughts that they had thrown in the towel.
First they gave themselves just a glimmer of hope when Jordan Clarke fired home through a sea of legs to make it 1-3. Then four minutes later it was 2-3 with a fine strike from George Thomas that flew in to the top left corner from a free kick 22 yards out.
United needed to draw breath but instead were forced back and conceded a corner. Jamie Hanson nodded the first effort away from off the line but Charlie Goode was on hand to thrash it back, past Eastwood, and somehow make it 3-3 in a game United seemed to have already put to bed.
Both sides calmed down for a while, although sub Butroid flashed a 30-yard drive just over on 77 as the Iron sensed a famous win. Captain Lee Novak headed wide from eight yards out with five minutes to go but United showed a little bit of common sense, slowed the game down when possible and in the end were full value for their point.
An astonishing game and once you pick the pieces out of it then a draw at their bogey ground, another point and a six-game unbeaten run is a decent return. And yet, you can't help wondering what might have been...
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Daniels and Darrell Fisher, stats by OPTA