Oxford United 0-0 Ipswich Town - Half-Time
Tuesday, 14th Jan 2020 21:03
The Blues’ game at Oxford United remains 0-0 after a first-half in which play was interrupted for 15 minutes due to monsoon conditions.
Town boss Paul Lambert made one change from Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Accrington with Will Keane replacing Kayden Jackson, who dropped out of the 18 due to a tight hamstring.
In a strong wind and heavy rain, worryingly starting to puddle up in the middle of the pitch before kick-off, the Blues started in the same 3-4-1-2 system they utilised at the weekend.
New loan signing Josh Earl was on the bench, as were Freddie Sears, who was rested at against Accrington, Teddy Bishop, Cole Skuse and Jon Nolan, back after his heel injury.
Oxford made four changes from the team which lost 3-1 at home to Rotherham on Saturday with John Mousinho, Marcus Browne, Matty Taylor and Nathan Holland taking over from Elliott Moore, Cameron Brannagan, Jamie Mackie and Mark Sykes, all of whom were on the bench.
There was a late change of referee with Tom Nield taking over from scheduled official Lee Doughty.
Among those watching were ex-Town assistant manager Terry Connor, now in a similar role alongside Mick McCarthy with the Republic of Ireland, and former caretaker-boss Charlie McParland.
Town kicked with the wind from the start with Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood’s second-minute kick looping back into his own half.
The home side struck the first shot of the game in the seventh minute. Browne was found 30 yards out and brought the ball forward before hitting a shot which hit the stanchion to the left of Will Norris’s goal.
Had the ball gone the other side of the post the goal wouldn’t have been without controversy with referee Nield having inadvertently prevented Emyr Huws from getting on the ball.
Town had their first opportunity a minute late, Gwion Edwards heading down and into the ground to Eastwood from a deep Luke Woolfenden cross from the left.
The rain thankfully started to fall less heavily as the game moved past the 10-minute mark and on 13 Keane knocked back to fellow Irishman Alan Judge, who shot wide from 20 yards.
On 16 Matty Taylor headed a freekick into Norris’s arms, then Keane again knocked down to Judge but his half-volley flew not too far wide.
Two minutes later, the Irishman had another dip from a similar distance after Norwood had found him to the left having made a run behind on the right.
The teams were making the best of the very trying conditions and on 20 Josh Ruffels did well on the left to win the ball and cross to the unmarked Taylor, who looked certain to score until James Wilson dived in to block.
Moments later, referee Nield was called over by the two managers for an ominous-looking conflab about the conditions. However, after a lengthy discussion, also involving both captains, play restarted.
Almost immediately, Judge broke away down the left and sent over a deep cross, which was nodded behind ahead of Edwards.
In the 27th minute, referee Nield picked the ball up and gave it a roll through a puddle in the middle of the field - the worst area of the pitch - before restarting his conversations on the touchline.
A minute later, the Oxford players left the field as the PA announced a five-minute suspension of play for the referee to assess the playing surface with the rain falling significantly less heavily than earlier on and the wind having dropped from the gale in which the game had started.
Town manager Lambert made his way on to the field where the Blues players were keeping themselves warm by passing balls around, while the ground staff forked the pitch.
The Town supporters chanted ‘We’re going to score in a minute’ and Chambers duly obliged by stroking in a low effort from 50 yards and raising his arms in mock celebration.
Ten minutes after the players left the field, the PA announced that they would return for a five-minute warm-up prior to the game continuing.
Fifteen minutes after the game was halted it continued with conditions having improved a great deal during the hiatus.
As the game reached the 45-minute mark, the fourth official and the PA indicated an additional 18 minutes would be played.
Town had the better of the spell after the players’ return with the ball largely in the Oxford half but without a serious chance being created.
In the 11th minute of time added-on Town felt they should have been awarded a penalty when a bouncing ball was played over the top for Norwood and misjudged by Yellows skipper John Mousinho, who appeared to manhandle the striker, sending him to ground.
Much to the annoyance of the Blues players referee Nield waved away their protests - and they looked to have had a strong case for a spot-kick - as a brief scramble came to nothing.
Three minutes later, Norwood had the ball in the net but with a linesman’s flag having already been raised.
Seconds before the whistle, a corner from the right reached Flynn Downes on the edge of the box. The midfielder missed completely with his first swing at the ball, then hit a defender with his second.
The Blues had been the better side during both spells of play, the early torrential period and then the more normal conditions after the teams had returned to the field.
In that latter stage Town were in control of the game but without carving out a chance other than the incident which might well have led to a penalty.
Oxford: Eastwood, Long, Dickie, Mousinho, Ruffels, Gorrin, Baptiste, Browne, Holland, Taylor, Fosu. Subs: Stevens, Moore, Brannagan, Kelly, Sykes, Hall, Mackie.
Town: Norris, Edwards, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Garbutt, Downes, Huws, Judge, Keane, Norwood. Subs: Holy, Earl, Skuse, Nolan, Sears, Dozzell. Referee: Tom Nield (West Yorkshire).
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