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Match Reports

REPORT Portsmouth 1 Oxford United 1

Matt finish keeps United's unbeaten run going at Fratton Park. Full time report

2 November 2019

Oxford United's unbeaten run continues after Matty Taylor's last-minute equaliser at Fratton Park this afternoon. Trailing to a Gareth Evans' penalty, United left it until the very last second of the 90 minutes to strike back and make it 12 unbeaten.

United perhaps took the home side by surprise with a new shape - both Jamie Mackie and Matty Taylor starting up top with James Henry, Tariqe Fosu and Mark Sykes quick to join them and Alex Gorrin holding the fort just behind them.

It meant plenty of possession despite a difficult swirling wind which made passing difficult and long balls a lottery, but there was no shortage of effort and the chance of a condition-affected slip or mistake only added to a fast-paced game.

The first half saw just one effort at goal for the home side: a John Marquis drive bravely blocked by the excellent John Mousinho, but United were buzzing around and playing some neat football despite the conditions.

It was a bruising encounter as well, with Mackie having to go off for attention to a head wound after clashing with defender Sean Raggett and Josh Ruffels limping off after sliding in to Ross McCrorie just before half time, Rob Dickie having to enter uncharted waters at right back and Sam Long moving to the left, outside sub Elliott Moore and Mousinho.

For context, that meant United added their Player of the Season to an injured list that contains: Woodburn, Brannagan, Napa, Cadden, Hall, Hanson and Thorne, but they still almost took the lead deep into injury time at the end of the first half when the energetic Sykes beat the keeper but saw Raggett clear off the line, hit his own keeper, and then clear off the line a second time as the ball rolled gently goalwards.

The loss of Ruffels just disrupted things further and the second half saw Portsmouth roar forward and take the game to the U's, culminating in the penalty when Moore tripped Close and Evans beat Eastwood from the spot for the crucial first goal.

Eastwood then kept his side in it with good saves from Evans and Williams, but United weren't out of it and started to play on the nerves of the home side as they threw caution to the wind, bringing on fresh legs in Shandon Baptiste and Anthony Forde to chase the game.

It worked. They started to force the home side back and had loud penalty shouts turned away as they started to pile on the pressure, but for once they hadn't tested the keeper enough times despite the new weapon of right-back Dickie's long throws into the box.

Forde curled a free kick just wide as time ran out and then everything changed in the very last minute when Taylor ghosted in at the far post to nod a superb Henry cross back across the keeper and spark wild scenes of celebration in the superb Yellow Army behind that goal as he earned his side a point with a clever finish.

What a run. What a team.

Let's see how we go in a different competition.  See you at Hayes and Yeading.

Att: 18528

Away:1,747 (Strangers in the Night)

Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels and Darrell Fisher, stats by OPTA

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