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Match Reports

REPORT Oxford United 1 Cheltenham Town 1

Sykes goal sees the U's start 2022 with a draw. Full time report

1 January 2022

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Oxford United started 2022 with a hard-fought point as Mark Sykes' late goal earned them a 1-1 draw at the Kassam Stadium this afternoon.

United never truly recaptured their superb display against AFC Wimbledon in midweek but never gave up and in the end Sykes slid home his fourth goal in five games to ensure they at least came away with something from a very tough game after Callum Wright had given Cheltenham the lead early in the second half.

It took a good save from Simon Eastwood in the opening minutes to keep it at 0-0 as Lewis Freestone got the first shot of the day on target before United began to settle and Marcus McGuane, the one change to the team from Wednesday, and Cameron Brannagan both went close from distance

They then had the perfect chance to go ahead when a sublime pass from McGuane slipped Taylor in on goal and led to a penalty as keeper Owen Evans rushed out and tripped him. Sadly Taylor couldn’t beat the keeper from the spot, his kick cannoning to safety off Evans’ legs as Taylor placed his kick too close to the centre of the goal.

010122 cheltenham (1).jpg

Sykes looked their likeliest source of a goal and lifted an effort over the top on 35 minutes and flashed another rising drive over the top on 45, but although the second quarter of the game had been played increasingly in the Robins’ half, the U’s had found Cheltenham tough to break down.

They then almost fell for the sucker punch three minutes into the second half when Liam Sercombe did what he does best, arriving on the edge of the box and forcing the pace. This time it led to a corner which was flicked on at the near post and Leicester loanee Wright couldn't miss, knocking the ball into the empty net from a yard out.


Now United needed to take a deep breath and find their rhythm. Sam Long did get the ball into the net but Taylor was offside in front of the keeper. Gavin Whyte added pace and urgency down the right and Sam Winnall joined Taylor up front to try and find a way past a back three where another former U's player, Charlie Raglan, epitomised the visitors' determination.

Brannagan did all he could but there was always a diving defender in the way until the pressure finally told and Sykes gleefully tapped home from similar, unattended, range to the opening goal.


United threw everything they had at the visitors to try and find a winner but there was to be no late drama this time.

A slow start shouldn't disguise a dominant second-half performance but the bottom line is, you cannot play the beautiful game every time you step on to the pitch. Sometimes you need to work your socks off, keep believing, and if that turns into just one point then so be it.

On to the next game. See you at Lincoln.

Att: 8,251

Away: 508

Fifty/50 winning number 14503 wins £685

Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Edmunds and Steve Daniels, stats by OPTA

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