Oxford United 0-0 Ipswich Town - Half-Time
Tuesday, 1st Dec 2020 19:58
Town and Oxford remain locked at 0-0 at half-time at the Kassam Stadium.
Armando Dobra was handed his full league debut and Jon Nolan, Aaron Drinan, Jack Lankester and Mark McGuinness returned to the line-up as Blues boss Paul Lambert made five changes from the team which lost 2-0 at home to Charlton on Saturday.
McGuinness joined Luke Woolfenden at the heart of the defence with skipper Luke Chambers at right-back and Stephen Ward on the left. David Cornell continued in goal.
In midfield, Andre Dozzell took up his usual deeper role with Lankester and Nolan, back after a groin problem, ahead of him.
Drinan, making his first start since the opening day of the league season, was the central striker with Dobra, who had previously made four league appearances as a sub, on the right and Bennetts on the left.
James Norwood and Toto Nsiala both suffered injuries on Saturday, joining an already lengthy injury list, while Alan Judge and Liam Gibbs dropped to the bench and Brett McGavin was missing from the 18.
Oxford made two changes from the team which lost 2-1 to Swindon at the weekend with Jack Stevens in goal for Simon Eastwood, who was on the bench, while Olamide Shodipo replaced Jordan Obita, who was also among the subs.
After both teams took a knee in support of Black Lives Matter, the game got under way with the Blues wearing their white and light blue away kit for the first time in a competitive fixture and crowd noise broadcast from the PA.
Neither side was able to create an opening in the early stages, but on 14 the Blues worked the ball out of a tight area on the right to Bennetts on the left and the on-loan Borussia Mönchengladbach man struck a speculative shot deep into the stand from distance when he should have played it to Ward overlapping.
In the 18th minute Josh Ruffels hit the home side’s first effort of the evening but straight at Cornell who claimed comfortably.
Three minutes later, the Blues made heavy weather of clearing a Liam Kelly free-kick from not far outside the area, the ball eventually bouncing past the post off a Town player.
From the resultant corner, Elliott Moore reached Kelly’s ball in from the left at the far post but directed his header wide when he looked certain to score.
Unusually for Town, the opposition were having most of the ball with the Blues not being allowed to keep the ball at the back as has become familiar this season.
On 29 home keeper Stevens came out of his box to clear ahead of Drinan, then at the other end Marcus McGuane hit a shot across the face of goal and out for a throw.
Two minutes later, Cornell was forced into his first save of the evening from the same player, the Blues keeper palming an effort from the edge of the area out of play off the retreating Bennetts.
Oxford were beginning to look more and more threatening and in the 38th minute hit the post.
Bennetts initially did well to get in front of his man as a Matty Taylor cross came over from the left but the ball was sent back in from the right by Kelly and home skipper Henry, a Town target during Paul Jewell’s time as boss, headed goalwards with Cornell just getting across to paw it on to the post and it was scrambled away.
Town enjoyed a spell of possession around the home side’s box as half-time approached but Bennetts hit the first defender with his cross.
That was the last action of a half which won’t linger long in the memory. The U’s had the better of it and all of the few chances with Elliott’s header and Henry’s effort not long before half-time the closest to a goal.
Town had been unable hit a shot on target with Stevens in the Oxford goal having shown one or two signs of shakiness when dealing with crosses early in the half.
Oxford: Stevens, Ruffels, Moore, Gorrin, Taylor, Long, Henry (c), McGuane, Atkinson, Shodipo, Kelly. Subs: Eastwood, Clare, Hall, Forde, Mousinho, Agyei, Obita.
Town: Cornell, Chambers (c), Woolfenden, McGuinness, Ward, Dozzell, Nolan, Lankester, Bennetts, Drinan, Dobra. Subs: Holy, Donacien, Kenlock, Judge, Jackson, Hawkins, Gibbs. Referee: Bobby Madley (West Yorkshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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