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Oxford United Hold Portsmouth to a Draw in League One Playoffs

Oxford United held Portsmouth to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their League One playoff semi-final at Fratton Park.

The U’s fell behind when Ronan Curtis fired past Simon Eastwood, but a superb individual effort by Marcus Browne levelled the tie just before the break.

Oxford United Hold Portsmouth to a Draw in League One Playoffs

First Game Back

Karl Robinson fielded arguably his strongest starting eleven. Meanwhile, Kenny Jackett decided to leave top scorer John Marquis on the bench.

Naturally, the atmosphere was uncharacteristically quiet as a result of the coronavirus pandemic enforcing games to be played behind closed doors.

But it would have been the home fans that were the more comfortable set of supporters early on. Curtis struck the woodwork just six minutes in as the U’s struggled to keep hold of the ball.

Oxford’s first effort on goal came after the first-half drinks break. James Henry’s corner was met by Josh Ruffels but his effort was cleared. But Pompey than sprung a counter-attack. It eventually fell to Curtis who, from a U’s perspective, probably felt he had been pushed too wide to do any damage, but the winger struck past Eastwood from an acute angle.

As has been the case a few times this season, the goal actually spurred the U’s on. Henry switched positions with Ben Woodburn and found himself on the ball more frequently.

Browne saw an effort sail wide before he fired in a low cross which wasn’t met by a player in white. The momentum was now with the U’s and it soon paid off.

Browne picked the ball up on the halfway line and eased towards the Pompey backline, before firing a shot into the bottom left corner.

Second Half

The break came at a bad time for Oxford, who entered the break on top. After the break, Ellis Harrison was denied a penalty, before substitute Sykes saw his assist find Browne, but the goalscorer saw his effort deflected wide.

Henry saw a long-range effort saved by the Pompey shot-stopper before Eastwood made amends from his error for the goal with a terrific save to deny Christian Burgess.

The U’s survived another penalty shout late on when Agyei clipped Curtis, but the game ended 1-1 – as it did when the sides met at Fratton Park earlier in the season.

Main Photo

Embed from Getty Images


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