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POMPEY 0 OXFORD 0

28 February 2015

Blues can't break down United defence

Pompey extended their unbeaten run to seven matches as they ended a fruitful month with a draw against Oxford.

It was not a game of many clear-cut chances, although all of the best ones fell the Blues’ way.

United keeper Ryan Clarke made two excellent saves to deny Jed Wallace and Matt Tubbs as the hosts had to settle for a point.

Andy Awford made two enforced changes from the side that fought from two down to beat Tranmere on Tuesday night.

Nigel Atangana replaced the suspended James Dunne in midfield, while skipper Ben Chorley came in for the injured Jack Whatmough at the back.

There was also a welcome return to the bench for Wes Fogden, who has not featured since damaging knee ligaments in pre-season.

Meanwhile, former Blues boss Michael Appleton named ex-Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown on the Oxford bench.

It was the hosts who were quickest out of the traps and Joe Skarz made a decent block to deny Ryan Taylor after Tubbs had headed down Dan Butler’s cross.

Wallace then threaded a pass through to Tubbs, but he could only fire over from an acute angle.

And it took a fine save from Clarke to stop United falling behind on 16 minutes, the keeper getting his fingertips to a Wallace drive to turn the ball behind.

The game then started to drift and the atmosphere fell a bit flat – until the Fratton End spotted FA Cup winners Hermann Hreidarsson and David James in the crowd and started to chant their names.

The current side responded by moving through the gears and Paul Robinson came close to breaking the deadlock, but headed narrowly over from Butler’s corner on 31 minutes.

Taylor then met a teasing Wallace cross, although he could only glance it straight into Clarke’s arms.

And the keeper made his second stunning save just before the break, leaping to tip over Tubbs’ bullet header.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Oxford 0

The second half was slow to get going, but Oxford almost handed Pompey an opener on 55 minutes.

Johnny Mullins’ weak back header saw Tubbs race into the box, but the striker drilled wide from a tight angle.

Wallace then hit a fierce effort over the bar as the Blues tried to impose themselves once more.

But the hosts struggled to retain possession as the half progressed, leading to some shouts of frustration from the stands.

Although, as the hour mark came and went, Paul Jones had still not had a meaningful save to make.

Awford tried to inject some more attacking flair into proceedings with a substitution on 76 minutes, withdrawing Passley and bringing on Andy Barcham.

And another switch soon followed as Tubbs made way for Craig Westcarr in Pompey’s attack.

It was Taylor who had the chance to grab a winner on 84 minutes when he was found by Barcham, but Oxford skipper Jake Wright made an excellent challenge to dispossess him in the box.

Pompey kept pushing forward in the closing stages in search of a goal, but the visitors held firm to ensure a share of the spoils.

Pompey (3-5-2): Jones; Devera, Robinson, Chorley (c); Passley (Barcham 76), Atangana, Wallace, Hollands, Butler; Tubbs (Westcarr 81), Taylor
Booked: Taylor
Subs not used: Poke, Webster, Ertl, Fogden, Chaplin

Oxford (4-4-2): Clarke; Baldock, Mullins, Wright (c), Skarz; MacDonald, Collins, Ruffels, O’Dowda (Roofe 70); Hoban, Hylton
Booked: MacDonald, Baldock
Subs not used: Ashdown, Long, Dunkley, Rose, Rasulo, Roberts

Referee: Darren Deadman

Attendance: 16,355 (1,292 away fans)

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