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Oxford United 1 (Chapman 33) Aldershot Town 1 (Mekki 84)
AN out-of-sorts Oxford United were stung by a late strike from Adam Mekki as the points were shared with Aldershot Town.
It extended United's unbeaten run to five games, but the home side will view it as two points dropped after leading for more than 50 minutes.
Adam Chapman had put the U's in front with a well-taken strike just after the half hour mark.
But United, who were subdued throughout, were unable to find a second goal, which would have secured victory.
It gave Aldershot a chance and they took it with a fantastic finish from Mekki six minutes from time.
Simon Heslop received a straight red card in the 90th minute to compound a frustrating afternoon.
James Constable, Peter Leven and Tony Capaldi all returned to the side after being rested in midweek.
Jake Forster-Caskey and Lee Cox dropped to the bench, while top scorer Tom Craddock's return to fitness meant there was no room among the substitutes for Tyrone Marsh.
Before the game the Kassam Stadium paid tribute to former U's player Mitchell Cole, who died last week, with a minute's applause.
Whether it had an impact on the players or not, the game began in a subdued manner.
United looked disjointed for much of the game and struggled to keep the ball.
But on the occasions they were able to string some passes together, Aldershot's defence looked vulnerable.
Alfie Potter had a great chance in the eighth minute, when James Constable's cross fell to him at the back post. The winger looked set to volley the looping ball into the net from eight yards, but ended up skewing it well wide.
If anything, Aldershot looked more composed in possession.
They looked dangerous on the break and one counter-attack saw Ryan Clarke only able to parry Kieron Cadogan's cross, which fell just out of Peter Vincenti's reach.
Sole striker Dani Lopez was a handful and only one excellent block from Damian Batt prevented him from a clear sight of goal midway through the half.
The officials did not help with the game's fluency, awarding a host of cheap free-kicks.
There was one bizarre passage of play where Danny Hylton looked five yards offside but was allowed to play on. Jake Wright caught up and ended up barging him over in the box, but referee Tony Harrington awarded a corner.
United's supporters did their best to inspire the home side and produced another burst of applause in the 17th minute - to make Cole's squad number at the club.
As the half wore on United gradually began to click.
One precise through ball from Chapman put in Constable, but at full stretch he lobbed Shots goalkeeper Jamie Young before watching in agony as it dropped wide.
On 33 minutes United made the breakthrough.
A cross from Liam Davis was kept alive by Potter and Constable did well to tee up Chapman, who netted his first goal of the season with a low 20-yard shot with his left foot.
It should have been 2-0 with the next attack, but Rigg mis-kicked from Constable's cross.
The interval did little to improve the overall quality of the game.
Hylton had two efforts in quick succession, heading Cadogan's free-kick wide and having another shot blocked by Batt.
United were a threat on the break, but two promising attacks were let down by poor decisions from Potter.
The winger was substituted shortly afterwards, along with Davis, as Craddock and Heslop came on.
The fresh legs were unable to stir the U's, who would have killed the game with a second goal.
Instead, Aldershot looked the more likely to score, forcing a number of dangerous set pieces.
United did just enough to preserve their lead, until a moment of class from Mekki.
The substitute cut in from the left flank and from the corner of the area curled a shot into the top corner.
United's chances of finding a late winner disappeared in the 90th minute, when Heslop was sent off for a rash tackle in Mekki.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Batt, Raynes, Wright, Capaldi, Potter (Heslop 61), Chapman, Leven, Davis (Craddock 56), Rigg, Constable.
Unused subs: Brown, Cox, Worley, O'Brien, Forster-Caskey.
Aldershot: Young, Herd, Brown, Bradley, Tonkin, Hector, Rose, Hylton, Cadogan, Vincenti (Mekki 74), Lopez (Reid 74).
Unused subs: Morris, Payne, Sinclair, Bergqvist, Roberts.
Referee: Tony Harrington.
Attendance: 5,721 (344 visitors).
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