Oxford United were beaten 2-0 at the Valley this evening as first half goals from Conor Washington and Andrew Shinnie gave Lee Bowyer's side all three points in Sky Bet League 1. The home side ended the game with ten men after Ryan Inniss' dismissal half way through the second half.
In a game of bright, attacking, pass and move football it was the home side who had the cutting edge although United saw plenty of the ball throughout, even before having a man advantage, but somehow couldn’t finish some fine approach play.
The excellent Anthony Forde sprinted 60 yards with the ball before powering a good effort over after 26 minutes and another surging run from right-back Sean Clare caught the eye as United pressed for the opener. But having made much of the running United were then undone on 32 minutes. It was a neat turn and flick from the inventive Shinnie that opened them up and with men to spare on their left flank Charlton took full advantage as Washington made the finish look simple to make it 1-0.
United weren’t about to change the way they were playing and continued to pass the ball for fun but right on half time they found themselves 2-0 down and with a mountain to climb at the Valley. With everyone expecting a cross Shinnie instead elected to fire at goal, powering a free kick into the top right corner with Simon Eastwood unable to get close.
Hard done by, United did their best to recover; Liam Kelly and Dan Agyei asked to open up a resolute Addicks defence in the final half hour and when Innis was shown a second yellow for baulking Taylor soon after there was still half an hour to force the pace still further.
They almost did that with Kelly driving them forward and Agyei teeing up skipper James Henry who was uncharacteristically off target with a great chance after 67 minutes. Keeper Amos kicked away a Taylor effort soon after with Sykes and Moore unable to convert the follow ups (and an unspotted handball in the middle of that as well) and it was non-stop pressure as they pinned the Addicks back.
Agyei looped a header onto the roof of the net, free kicks and crosses went close to their intended targets, but Charlton saw it through and for once there was no late drama for the U's on this ground.
As with previous away games this season, plenty of endeavour for little reward. Long way to go still, starting at Fleetwood on Saturday...
Report by Chris Williams, picture Steve Edmunds, stats by OPTA