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Match Reports

REPORT Cheltenham Town 1 Oxford United 2

Brannagan on the spot as ten man U's beat the Robins. Full time report

27 August 2022

Match Reports

REPORT Cheltenham Town 1 Oxford United 2

Brannagan on the spot as ten man U's beat the Robins. Full time report

27 August 2022

Two goals from Cameron Brannagan earned ten-man Oxford United a superb first away win of the season with a 2-1 win at Cheltenham this afternoon.

Trailing to a Taylor Perry goal for three minutes, Brannagan levelled with a magnificent free kick then hammered home a penalty to spark a terrific win after Billy Bodin had been sent off at 1-1. Cheltenham then saw Ellis Chapman sent off in injury time to level things up in a dramatic game that had a little bit of everything.

With the three-centre-half formation from their game against Crystal Palace in midweek, United looked very solid, and the return of Marcus McGuane and James Henry after injury added experience and craft in the midfield. United, all in white, started the game very brightly and could have been ahead inside a minute, but defender Lewis Freestone was well placed to hack a goal-bound effort from Steve Seddon off the line.

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However, the early domination faded with the autumnal sunshine and there were a couple of scares when Simon Eastwood needed to make a good save from the dangerous Alfie May, who then flashed a shot wide after 32 minutes as the home side grew into the game. Cameron Brannagan had two efforts at the other end and there were some terrific challenges from the excellent Ciaron Brown, but it had somehow ended up as an even first half after so much early promise.

A spark needed to be found. The shape shifted to a flat back four, Matty Taylor stepped up from the bench and United created half chances, Henry lifting the goal off the floor as he thrashed a difficult chance into the side netting and Bodin not quite finding the finish after bringing a difficult ball down superbly. There was an edge to the game too, long before the red cards; Long and Joseph were booked for fouls and Seddon spoken to for taking a fence.

Southampton loanee Dan Nlundulu was a constant threat but maybe should have done better with a free header that he planted into the waiting gloves of Eastwood. But on 63 he made a nuisance of himself under Eastwood as Joseph's header looped across the six-yard box. Eastwood's impeded punch wasn't cleared and Perry fired home via a deflection to give the Robins a 1-0 lead.

It lasted three minutes.

United redoubled their efforts straight away, and when they need inspiration they can rely on their midfield talisman. Cheltenham conceded a free kick 25 yards out, Brannagan rolled it to Bodin and when the return came back Brannagan angled his effort superbly into the far corner to level the scores with his third goal of the season, all from set pieces.

brannagan-goal.jpg

The game was there for the winning but then it seemed to become considerably harder when Bodin picked up two yellow cards inside four minutes. The first was for a raised arm, the second for a poorly timed slide into left-back Ben Williams which saw ref Charles Breakspear dismiss Bodin and leave United with ten men for the final 16 minutes.

No matter.

In came a set piece, up went Brown and there was a nudge inside the box, spotted by assistant Marc Wilson if by nobody else in the ground. He flagged for a penalty even as Brown's header looped onto the roof of the net. No doubting who would take it, and Brannagan had given the U's a priceless three points.

There was still time for Perry to dive in on Brannagan and get a second yellow, and for six minutes of United keeping the ball near the corner flag, but forget that: resilience and determination had won the day.

That gets the first away win out of the way and gets the season started properly.

Let's go.

Att: 4,554

Away: 1,209

Report by Chris Williams. Pictures by Darrell Fisher and Steve Daniels


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