Oxford Left Frustrated as Crawley Town Claim Draw

Oxford United ended their League Two opener in disappointment as recently relegated Crawley Town earned a point when the sides met at the Kassam Stadium.

The Us, who are tipped as one of the league’s early favourites to gain promotion to League One this season, dominated large spells of the physical encounter, but a goal from each side in the second half saw both sides leave with a point.

 

Oxford United 1-1 Crawley Town 

From the off, the hosts immediately gained control and began to pass the ball comfortably on the newly laid surface at the Kassam Stadium. However, the visitors, who it appeared had clearly come in search of a point, and to frustrate the opposition, were challenging hard as the game grew physical.

The Us had a couple of half chances early on, but neither Alex MacDonald or Kemar Roofe were able to find a way past the Red Devils’ back line. Roofe then had another effort, but his low drive was comfortably saved by debutant goalkeeper, Freddie Woodman.

At the other end of the field, new Us keeper, Sam Slocombe, had little to do, largely due to the incredible defensive efforts shown by captain, Jake Wright, and Johnny Mullins, as the game started petering out towards the break. As the sides paused for half-time, goalless, Crawley boss, Mark Yates, would have been the happier of the two managers as his side; although under pressure for large parts, his side were keeping the hosts at bay and frustrated.

As the second half began, the game remained relatively slow with little chances. That was until, against the run of play, the visitors took the lead with their first effort on goal. The goal came from a throw-in and, for the first time during the afternoon, the Us’ sturdy defence was unable to clear their lines as Roarie Deacon crossed from the by-line, before the ball was flicked into the path of Gwion Edwards, who headed past Slocombe.

In all fairness, the goal was just what the game, and Oxford United, needed to spring back into action and come alive. The hosts were still dominating possession, and the visitors were quite happy sitting on their one goal advantage. However, it didn’t last long; less than ten minutes later, the Us were level. Midfielder, Danny Rose, who had rarely put a foot wrong all game in the centre of midfield next to debutant, Liam Sercombe, saw the run of last season’s top scorer, Danny Hylton, and found him with a delicately weighted pass. Hylton latched onto the path of the ball and struck past Woodman fiercely, bringing the game level.

The match had regained some of the pace that had been lost in the afternoon heat, and it was again the Us controlling the tempo. That said, Crawley had a decent opportunity to regain the lead as Matt Harold got behind the defence, but as Slocombe hesitated whether or not to come out, Mullins was there to beat the forward to the ball, knocking it behind for a corner.

From there, the visitors retreated to their defensive tactics, limiting the Us to half chances. With time ticking away, the hosts had two opportunities to win the game. First, Roofe had another effort saved by Woodman, before the young goalkeeper denied Mullins, after his headed attempt from a corner.

It ended all square, with the visitors certainly the happier of the two sides. Oxford will be disappointed not to have earned all three points, but there’s still a long way to go.

 

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