|Ipswich Town 0 v 0 Oxford United|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 13th November 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Ipswich Town 0-0 Oxford United - Match Report
Saturday, 13th Nov 2021 17:08
Town and Oxford drew 0-0 for the fourth time in their last five meetings at Portman Road, the Blues having come closest to scoring in the first half when Macauley Bonne and later Bersant Celina hit the same post.
Bailey Clements was handed his league debut at left-back - with neither Matt Penney or Hayden Coulson in the squad - with Janoi Donacien on the right and George Edmundson and Toto Nsiala at the centre of the defence. Christian Walton was in goal.
In midfield, skipper Sam Morsy was partnered by Lee Evans with Kyle Edwards on the left and Wes Burns on the right and Celina behind Bonne.
Kane Vincent-Young was absent from the bench with manager Paul Cook having said the right-back was touch-and-go for inclusion in the squad at yesterday’s press conference having suffered a shoulder injury on Tuesday.
Following the Last Post ahead of Remembrance Sunday, both teams took a knee - with the usual exception of Nsiala, who raised a fist - to applause from the large Portman Road crowd.
Oxford started the game on the front foot but Town went close to going in front in only the fifth minute when Bonne flicked a header from a Lee Evans corner off the near post.
The game continued in a frenetic manner and a minute later the U’s forced Walton into his first save of the afternoon, the keeper diving away to his left to tip a Mark Sykes shot over the bar.
The visitors continued to see most of the ball and take the game to the Blues and on 14 a Sam Long shot deflected into the arms of Walton.
But five minutes later, the Blues hit the same post for a second time. Clements, showing no sign of nerves on his league debut, brought the ball forward a long way before cutting inside to Celina, who took a touch before hitting a low shot which hit the post, Long clearing the danger.
Town began to see more of the ball and in the 23rd minute Morsy struck a shot from 25 yards which deflected over off a defender. From Evans’s corner on the left, Edmundson nodded wide at the far post.
The Blues were on top - although with passes going astray in the final third all too often - but with Oxford still presenting a threat. On 29 Nathan Holland hit a low cross-shot from the left of the box which Walton snaffled sharply down to his left.
Donacien thwarted Sykes as he tricked his way into the area on 38, then two minutes later Cameron Brannagan was shown the game’s first yellow card for appearing to aim a stamp on Clements having shoved the full-back over as he shielded the ball back to Edmundson. The U’s man could count himself lucky not to be shown a red.
There was a scare for the Blues two minutes later when Holland was found in space running in on goal but Donacien made an excellent if risky challenge to upset the midfielder’s progress, then Nsiala completed the job inside the box.
Oxford manager Karl Robinson evidently felt there had been a foul and took his protests to the fourth official too far and was shown a yellow card.
That was the last action of a well-contested half in which the visitors started the stronger but with the Blues hitting the woodwork twice before the Blues were largely in control from around the midway point.
The Blues had got into good areas down the left but without crosses not finding their man, while too many passes had gone astray in promising positions in the middle of the park.
Town started the second half brightly and in the 48th minute Bonne forced keeper Simon Eastwood to save down to his left with a low effort.
Three minutes later, Celina curled wide from just outside the box after Burns had knocked back to him after good work down the left.
Town continued to dominate and went close in the 56th minute when, following a long spell of possession, Evans looped a cross in from the right, Edwards played wide to Clements, who sent a low ball across the six-yard box but in front of Bonne. The league debutant might well have shot himself.
Three minutes later, another well-worked Blues move culminated in Celina, much more influential since the break, feeding a ball through for Bonne but just too far in front of the striker.
In the 61st minute, Bonne’s excellent header found Celina midway inside the Oxford half from where the Kosovo international fed Edwards to his left. The winger, still waiting for his first Town goal, brought the ball forward into the area before hitting a shot high and wide from a tight angle.
Oxford came back into it and on 68 James Henry crossed from the right and Nsiala headed behind for a corner.
In the 71st minute, Town swapped Edwards, who had threatened to create a key moment but ultimately without delivering, and Burns, who had had a quiet afternoon, for Conor Chaplin and Sone Aluko, while Oxford switched Henry for Marcus McGuane.
A minute later, Sykes was found in space on the right for the U’s but Edmundson got across to block his shot from just inside the area.
The game was becoming more and more open and end to end. On 75 Chaplin shot wide from just outside the area for the Blues, then almost immediately Matty Taylor won a corner on the right for Oxford, which Edmundson headed clear.
As the game moved into its final 10 minutes, Morsy was booked for a foul on Oxford sub McGuane.
A minute later, Celina and Bonne broke away with the Blues’ top scorer unmarked down the middle but the on-loan Dijon man’s ball in from the left was behind the striker and Oxford were able to get back to cut out the opportunity.
On 85, Aluko was sent away down the right and after cutting inside his man crossed to the near post to Chaplin, whose effort looped wide.
The Town fans made their frustrations clear to referee Scott Oldham in the 88th minute after he stopped play so Taylor could receive attention, hardly the first Oxford player who had gone to ground with no one near him in the second half. As it was, the striker eventually limped his way to the touchline and was replaced by Dan Agyei.
As the fourth official’s board indicated five additional minutes, Clements was booked for a foul.
Town replaced Celina with Pigott for the final couple of minutes and Oxford brought on Ryan Williams.
Moments later, another Oxford player went down apparently requiring help with cramp, prompting chants of ‘boring, boring Oxford’ from the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
Soon afterwards, Town claimed Pigott had been fouled in the area as a cross came over from right, however, referee Oldham penalised Bonne for colliding with keeper Eastwood, who unsurprisingly spent a minute or so on the ground before being able to continue.
The final whistle was greeted by more chants of ‘boring, boring Oxford’, the visitors having been allowed to take time-wasting well beyond what might be viewed as reasonable by the officials, who also got a number of decisions wrong.
Town will feel they did enough to win the game, although Eastwood was hardly overworked in the second half with the best opportunity Clements’s cross-shot which Bonne couldn’t reach.
The Blues last beat Oxford in February 1999 when the game ended 2-1 with Mark Venus, who netted a penalty, still the last Town player to have scored against the U’s.
The result sees the Blues stay ninth and Oxford sixth ahead of Town’s trip to Sunderland next Saturday with an FA Cup replay at Oldham on Tuesday.
Town: Walton, Donacien, Nsiala, Edmundson, Clements, Morsy (c), Evans (Aluko 71), Burns, Celina (Pigott 90), Edwards (Chaplin 71), Bonne. Unused: Hladky, Burgess, Harper, Fraser.
Oxford: Eastwood, Long, Thorniley, Moore (c), Brannagan, Taylor (Agyei 90), Sykes, Henry (McGuane 71), Kane, Holland (Williams 90) Seddon. Unused: Plumley, Forde, McNally, Bodin. Referee: Scott Oldham (Poulton-le-Fylde). Att: 21,322 (Oxford: 922).
Photo: Matchday Images
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