Saturday 25th February 2012 ko 3.00
OXFORD UNITED 1 (Johnson 42)
MACCLESFIELD TOWN 1 (Duberry 9og)
Att 6,189 (63 away)
Programme (inc Oxford Mail) £3
Today’s match at Grenoble Road was designated “Military Day” and the club made great efforts to pay tribute to the many forms of the armed forces that are based within the county. There was a touching moment when after a few minutes play, the personnel walked aroud the pitch from the main stand, behind the goal and round to the North Stand. The entire ground stood and applauded. A spine-tingling moment.
The game saw the visitors arrive with a loanee keeper they’d picked up en route, and having lost 8 games on the bounce. An easy win you’d think, but this is Oxford United.
United started brightly enough, but found themselves a goal down after 9 minutes. Referee Darren Drysdale made the first in a series of poor decisions in awarding a free kick 30 yards out. Matt Hamshaw’s free kick found Michael Duberry 6 yards out under no pressure, but he somehow managed to power his header past Ryan Clarke for his 3rd own goal of the season. Does this mean he’s now on -1 goals for the campaign?
United continued with the 4-4-2 formation that had brought a won against Barnet, and it was the right flank that provided the equaliser, Oli Johnson turning neatly, and not being challenged, fired home from 18 yards. He’s beginning to look an excellent acquisition.
The second half should have seen United force home the gulf in quality. James Constable missed a good chance when Lee Holmes played him in, but Richard O’Donnell saved his shot, and in the melee Johnson and Scott Rendell had follow-up efforts blocked. Constable’s second opportunity came from a Holmes cross, but he headed high and wide from eight yards out.
After that United grew frustrated and place broke down repeatedly, as play grew narrower with neither full-backs Davis or Batt able or willing to overlap and Leven’s gorgeous passes taking place where he could do no damage, in his own half. Time after time United forced corners, but lacked the guile to do anything with them. Liam Davis’ 25 yard shot was well saved by O’Donnell, and that was United’s last meaningful chance.
The final whistle was met by a chorus of boos, not for current form, only 1 defeat in 12, but for a sense of what could happen when a team bang in form visit next Saturday. That, though is a local derby, and the form book can be ignored.