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Oxford United 1-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 19th Mar 2022 17:10

Oxford defender Luke McNally scored an equaliser five minutes into injury time to deny Town victory as the Blues and U’s drew 1-1 at the Kassam Stadium. Town looked to have had the game won via Bersant Celina’s 70th minute opener but deep in injury time McNally headed home from a corner to deny the Blues two vital points.

Skipper Sam Morsy was among the Town subs, one of two changes from last week’s 0-0 home draw with Portsmouth.

Morsy, who had been forced off in the last two matches by a hamstring problem, was replaced in the centre of midfield by Tom Carroll, while Joe Pigott was the central striker with Kayden Jackson having picked up a more serious hamstring injury against Pompey.

Joining Morsy among the subs for the first time under manager Kieran McKenna was young centre-half Elkan Baggott, who was in the 20-man squad last week but without making the final 18, while U23s midfielder Cameron Humphreys made the trip the Kassam Stadium but didn’t make the matchday squad.

Janoi Donacien captained with fellow centre-half Luke Woolfenden making his 100th appearance for the Blues.

Oxford made three changes from the team which won 2-1 at Shrewsbury last week with Sam Long, Ciaron Brown and Billy Bodin in for John Mousinho, Steve Seddon and Nathan Holland, who were all on the bench.

After the two teams had taken a knee, Oxford, who had the wind in their favour, started the stronger, winning an early corner, before the Blues started to see most of the ball.

In the fifth minute, a dangerous Town free-kick from midway inside the Oxford half on the right fell to Woolfenden at the far post but the central defender’s shot was blocked by Long.

Town keeper Christian Walton was forced into his first save of the afternoon two minutes later when Gavin Whyte burst into the area and hit a low shot which the Blues’ number one stopped before Donacien turned the ball behind.

On 12, Town gave the ball away just inside their own half - although Bakinson had looked to have been fouled as he looked for a return ball - and Whyte struck another shot but too close to Walton and without any power.

A minute later, Bersant Celina latched onto Pigott’s flick then crossed from the right only just in front of Conor Chaplin.

Soon afterwards, Burns, who had already been on the end of one or two overzealous challenges, cut inside Ryan Williams and sent in a right-wing cross which home keeper Simon Eastwood palmed behind.

Oxford made heavy weather of clearing the resultant corner but the ball just wouldn’t fall for Town, who were getting on top and looking the more threatening side, although with too many wayward passes in the final third.

The home side might well have gone in front in the 27th minute when Mark Sykes’s strike from the right of the box deflected out to Williams in space to the left but the Australian international shot into the ground and wide when he ought to have done much better.

Town were continuing to see most of the ball but Oxford had another chance in the 34th minute when the ball dropped to Whyte on the edge of the box, however, the Northern Irish international volleyed well wide when it looked another decent opportunity.

Two minutes later, Burns was sent away on the right and cut back towards Celina but a defender was able to turn behind ahead of the Kosovan international.

The Welshman had been Town’s biggest threat throughout the first half and on 39 the ex-Fleetwood man went close to putting the Blues in front.

Burns brought the ball in from the right, exchanged passes with Pigott, then curled an effort with the outside of his right boot which flicked wide off Sykes at the far post. From the corner, Eastwood dropped the ball but was able to claim before a Town player was able to get onto it.

Soon after, Celina shot into the side-netting from the left but having strayed offside with Town looking increasingly dangerous.

But a minute before the whistle, Oxford striker Matty Taylor struck a low effort straight at Walton from the edge of the Town box with no further threat at either end before referee Marc Edwards ended the half.

The Blues had been in control for the most part but with Burns’s shot which was diverted wide their only really clear-cut chance.

Too many final balls or passes as they got into the final third had gone astray, while Oxford had had the half’s better opportunities without having seriously tested Walton.

Three minutes after the restart, with Town now having the wind behind them, Cameron Burgess made a superb cross-field pass for Burns, who did well to reach it and then cut back to Pigott, but the striker’s touch let him down as he looked to turn and the danger was gone.

Seven minutes into the second half, Town boss McKenna swapped Carroll and Pigott for Morsy and Macauley Bonne.

Burns was shown the first yellow card of the afternoon in the 56th minute for a cynical trip on Whyte as Oxford broke following a Blues free-kick.

Town began to put the U’s under pressure with more balls starting to fly across the home side’s box. On 65 Burns hit a well-struck shot from the edge of the box straight at Eastwood.

A minute later, Dominic Thompson crossed from the left and Bonne headed into the ground and into the keeper’s arms.

In the 69th minute, Celina was sent away on the left, the on-loan Dijon man bringing it inside before hitting a shot which Eastwood saved, the loose ball failing to fall kindly for Town and the danger was eventually cleared.

Oxford briefly threatened and perhaps for the first time committed too many men forward and from the subsequent counter-attack Town profited and scored their first goal against the U’s since 1999.

Chaplin’s clever pass sent Burns away on the right as the Blues broke at pace following the Oxford attack and the Welshman cut back to Celina who had held his run, and the Kosovan stroked into the corner of the net to claim his sixth goal of the season before celebrating with the Town support on the far side.

Tyreeq Bakinson wasn’t too far from a second in the 75th minute, the on-loan Bristol City man curling a shot only just wide from the edge of the box after Celina had brought it across the edge of the area, although might well have played in Bonne to his left earlier.

In the 87th minute, goalscorer Celina made way for Sone Aluko with the Blues looking comfortable.

Almost immediately, a loose ball fell to Morsy just inside the area but the midfielder’s shot was blocked by Eastwood. Oxford swapped Whyte for Sam Winnall on 88 as the U’s went looking for an equaliser.

The fourth official’s board indicated five additional minutes during which time Chaplin was fouled by Williams, who was booked.

Town were seeing out the final minutes without a problem - although Bonne was shown a yellow card for delaying a free-kick on halfway - until the final minute of injury time when the U’s won a corner.

With keeper Eastwood having come up, McNally got in front of Burgess to power a header into the corner of the net to level.

There was no time for the gutted Blues to hit back and the fifth game in six between the sides ended in a draw, although this time 1-1 rather than 0-0.

Town looked to have secured their first ever league win at Oxford, the U's having threatened very rarely if at all after the break but were made to pay for failing to defend a set piece, the goal only the second the Blues have conceded in 10 matches.

The win would have brought the Blues to within four points of the top six but they now remain six points away with only seven games left to play and another season of League One football looks increasingly on the cards.

Fourth-placed Plymouth, who beat Accrington 4-0 today, visit Portman Road next Saturday in a match the Blues have to win to stand any chance of maintaining their play-off challenge.

Oxford: Eastwood, McNally, Long, Brown (Holland 84), Sykes, Kane, Brannagan (c), Williams, Bodin (McGuane 68), Whyte (Winnall 88), Taylor. Unused: Stevens, Mousinho, Forde, Seddon.

Town: Walton, Donacien (c), Woolfenden, Burgess, Burns, Bakinson, Carroll (Morsy 52), Thompson, Chaplin, Celina (Aluko 90), Pigott (Bonne 52). Unused: Hladky, Baggott, Penney, Norwood. Referee: Marc Edwards (Tyne and Wear). Att: 11,029 (Town: 1,787).

Photo: Pagepix

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BromleyBloo added 17:11 - Mar 19
Gutted - brilliant second half performance when the whole team stood up away against a good Ox side. 30 seconds to go and we concede from a corner!?! Unbelievable - why Ipswich, why???

Sounded like a close contest between two good sides and pretty even first half while the elements were against us, albeit Burns always threatening as usual. Much better in the second half with the wind behind us and we began to impose ourselves and dominate.

Also noticeably upped our game when Morsy and Bonne came on, who both contributed strongly - Bonne should start as first lead striker. Burns and Bakinson also very influential throughout, with Celina more present in the second half. Defence also again solid and Burgess and Walton very good. Chaplin and Donacien as well, but probably everybody really………………..

……………but how can that happen?!? We toughed it out for 90 mins+ and so deserved to win!

Still alive, but need to win them all…………………….


supasmiler71 added 17:12 - Mar 19
Gutted. In reality, great point, but so close!!

TimmyH added 17:15 - Mar 19
What a despairing way to draw a game, bossed most of the second half after Morsy came on (no surprise there) and they created hardly anything in that time. Fact is we just haven't won enough of these games against fellow play-off candidates under both McK and Cook so it really shows you where we are currently.

Great opportunity to have got back in the hunt as both Sunderland and Sheff Wed drew but really frustrated after today and to a degree last weekend, too many draws coming thick and fast.

midastouch added 17:15 - Mar 19
Shame football games don't last for 80 minutes like Rugby. We're like Frank Bruno in the last round when it comes to added-on time! Feels like a proper kick in the nuts that one!

Esseeja added 17:17 - Mar 19
I'm going to punch 8 million holes through my walls until there are enough swarms of insects to distract me from the anguish of league 1 football.

Blueballs83 added 17:19 - Mar 19
Devastated! Why does it never seem to go for us?!? We deserve a change in fortune! Played so well in second half, but so often 1 goal isn’t enough

Edmundo added 17:20 - Mar 19
More platitudes from the opposition boss to come... rubs salt into the wound imo. I'd much rather we had been like away sides at PR and time wasted rather than conceding. Naive.

ButchersBrokenNose added 17:21 - Mar 19
And Oxford show us how to take a corner.

Like everyone else, this feels like two points dropped than one gained, but we went to one of the play-off contenders and almost beat them. To be honest, I'd have taken a point before kick-off, and that shows how far we've come. A great performance today, and if we can maintain that level of consistency, I'm confident we'll win this league next season.

Gforce added 17:22 - Mar 19
Win next week and hopefully our rivals lose,we'll find ourselves just 3 points adrift with 18 still to play for.
But the realist in me,thinks sadly it's another season in this horrible league.
But at least we now have a terrific new'ish manager at the helm,and I for one firmly believe we can actually win the league one title next season 😉

Bluearmy_81 added 17:25 - Mar 19
Gutted. Won 190 quid when Oxford equalised as I had town down for a draw (Plymouth win, Lincoln draw the other two) in a 3 game accy. Still gutted

ShropshireBluenago09 added 17:27 - Mar 19
Gutted - 3 pts should have been in the bag. Still 1 pt away against one of the better sides is good - still believe we can do it.

martin587 added 17:28 - Mar 19
Absolutely stunned.We played well and contained them well although could have been one down at HT.We are still lacking consistency in the final third and I just cannot see where that’s going to improve in the final seven games.Need to search for a twenty goal striker in the summer and that won’t be easy.Having said that we now have the nucleus of a very good team to challenge for promotion next season should we fail to get in the play-offs at the end of April.Next Saturday is I feel a make or break game and will define the rest of this season.

IpswichToon added 17:31 - Mar 19
5 mins of extra time felt a little excessive to me, had 4 been given, nobody would have complained and we'd all be praising a great 3 points!

Loring added 17:32 - Mar 19
That was an absolute sickener, last kick of the game, against the run of play. Feels like a defeat, but how much have we improved in the last 15 games, I don’t fear no one. Next season is our season if we keep these performances going, plus a new striker.

mightyhorse added 17:33 - Mar 19
Not the result we wanted but I will take a point. Still not sure if we will make it this year, but that’s ok. I think we are building something really good at the moment. Let’s be honest, our strikers are just not good enough at this level which is a worry, and I am confident it will be addressed in the summer. I honestly believe that with everything happening within the club that we can win the league next season. COYB.

Billericay12 added 17:34 - Mar 19
Great performance today and I really enjoy watching us now. I haven’t been able to say that for many many years. We only have one striker who has hit double figures so far and he hasn’t scored for months. There lies the problem. With a couple of forwards scoring 15-20 each we would be home and dry now. But the club as a whole is making huge progress and the future looks much brighter. AND we are still in with a chance of the play offs.

dyersdream added 17:36 - Mar 19
Looked so much better when piggot went off ! He’s pony

budgieplucker added 17:38 - Mar 19

I wasn’t at the match today so far from me to be overly critical. Kieron McKenna has done a great job with what he has inherited and is definitely the man to take us forward.

Arteta responded to praise of Saka today tempering that by saying well if you play for a big club you are expected and have to produce plenty of big moments.

Walton, Burns, Donacien, Wolfenden, Edmundson, Morsy have all been consistently outstanding under McKenna. Aluko and Celina good.

Bonne, Piggot, Norwood, Chaplin, Edwards despite some good moments under Cook earlier in the season have failed to produce anywhere near enough big moments under a Mckenna system that has put the opposition under a lot of pressure in the final third.

We still fail in the big moments, so even getting to a play off raises the question of whether we have enough bottle and can be clinical enough. Our record against teams above us still hasn’t been good enough and we just don’t punish teams to the extent of our superiority.

Bonne, Piggot, Norwood , Chaplin , at least two of them need to move on and our striking capability reinforced with a couple of well established prolific marksmen.

A good back up for Morsy (not Bakinson - although I think he could be a good squad player) a left back and a couple of really good strikers will see us out of this league under Kieron next year.

Suffolkboy added 17:47 - Mar 19
We can and do defend BUT goals win games and we can’t score regularly or strike home enough !
What’s more , though we are not alone, the stats and successes from free kicks and corners will be looking pretty dismal .
SO lots of potential still , much that’s going really really well ,and great hopes for the future to be realised ( next season ?)

therein61 added 17:55 - Mar 19
A very hard earned point(3 in the bag) after resorting to switching off at a set piece which was something we had sorted out now it's bit us in the bum when only 4 points off 6th.

LegendofthePhoenix added 18:02 - Mar 19
Such an unjust result. First half scrappy and no clear chances. Second half, we looked a different team with Morsy and Bonne on. Burns was literally tearing them apart, and Oxford players just looked like they couldn't cope with the pace and power of Town who were attacking in waves. It seemed impossible that we weren't going to score, so much penetration, but finishing does seem to be our achilles heel. Even after the excellent goa from the Chaplin/Burns/Celina combo, we continued to have Oxford on the back foot right up until that damn corner.

Surely this now League means another season of League 1 football. A very disappointing result, but it was always a long shot after our terrible start to the season. The future is however incredibly bright - I can only see this team, with further strengthening in the summer, completely taking this league by the throat next season. McKenna's at the wheel.

runningout added 18:05 - Mar 19
Unlucky today!! We are still probably the best outfit in this league and league above:-) There was always going to be a sting in the tail here and there. Hey ho onwards we go

LimerickTractorBoy added 18:08 - Mar 19
So so so disappointing to concede there, devastating actually, playoffs not gone but now a long shot, such a pity as we are so much better then some who will make the playoffs in my opinion.
We should be going up this year and I believe we would give the Championship a fair rattle next year, look what Huddersfield and Luton are achieving this year.
Anyhow, hats off to ITFC, Kieran McKenna and the players, we are on the way.
Once again a proper club with a proper manager

Marinersnose added 18:13 - Mar 19
Many of us moan about teams coming to PR and wasting time in order to secure a point. When the team plays away against top six opponents and get the all important goal the team needs to collectively see the game out whether it means keeping the ball or wasting time. Unfortunately we’ve let another two important points slip away along with our outside chance of a top six finish. We are making it extremely difficult but KMK has worked miracles with this squad.

KenHancocksBoot added 18:14 - Mar 19
Gutted, but when you’re after promotion 1 goal is not going to be enough week after week. We’re only a David Johnson mk2 away from being a winning team

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