Oxford United picked up a point against league leaders Peterborough United as they ended the Posh's six game winning streak with a 0-0 draw at the Kassam Stadium this evening.
The U's drew for the third time in four games with a solid performance in a game that was high on quality but dominated by two excellent defences.
Confidence was evident from the league leaders right from the start of a breathless first half. Sammy Szmodics and Siriki Dembele both had shots saved and Joe Ward forced Jack Stevens into a really good save inside the first five minutes as they pressed United back.
The U’s weathered that spell and then started to create their own chances. Mark Sykes, the one change to the side in place of Mide Shodipo, almost set up Matty Taylor for the opening goal after 12 minutes with a low cross that Nathan Thompson did exceptionally well to keep away from the waiting striker a yard from goal. The sides traded attack for attack with the game very easy on the eye.
Stevens saved an overhead kick when Jonson Clarke-Harris sought his seventh goal in seven games in acrobatic style, but United had attacking intentions of their own and Brandon Barker’s pace and hard running was causing the Posh defence plenty of problems.
There was no way the early frenetic tempo could be maintained as the two sides pressed each other all over the pitch, and the last 15 minutes of the first half were slightly calmer, although an injury to Elliot Lee also meant a change of shape for the U’s, with the very influential Cameron Brannagan pushing further forward.
A respect borne from three or four seasons of close encounters, two shrewd managers who made ajustments at the break and two highly efficient back fours meant that the second half tightened up.
Sam Long limping off led to the introduction of Jamie Hanson who was shoved, undetected, before he could head home an Anthony Forde corner, but there was also a let off at the other end when Dembele rounded the stranded Stevens but fired into the side netting from an acute angle rather than into the empty net.
Taylor was on target but denied by Christy Pym at his near post after 64 minutes, Ruffels fired wide of that same post five minutes later, Barker broke clear but took the wrong option a minute later. But Peterborough are a formidable outfit this season and had fought hard for their clean sheet. As had the U's.
Man of the Match Stevens ensured that happened with a magnificent save in inury time to stop a Clarke-Harris header from six yards but that would have been harsh on the U's.
A good honest game between two decent teams. Fair result too.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Daniels, stats by OPTA