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Accrington Stanley 0 Oxford United 0
5:38pm Saturday 19th October 2013 in Headlines
OXFORD United were unable to make the most of their chances as they were held to a goalless draw by struggling Accrington Stanley.
The U's were ponderous in the first half, but followed it up with a marked improvement after the break.
They created plenty of opportunities, with Michael Raynes forcing one superb save from man-of-the-match, goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.
United would have gone top of the table if they had won, but the draw meant they slipped to fourth, part of a top six separated by a point.
U's boss Chris Wilder named the same XI which started the 2-0 win against Northampton Town a week earlier, but changed their shape.
Johnny Mullins, part of a back three against the Cobblers, was brought over to play at right back, with David Hunt ahead of him in a 4-4-2.
Accrington began the game five points adrift at the foot of the Football League, but they were on top early on.
Kal Naismith jinked inside on to his left foot and fired a warning shot just wide on four minutes.
It got the hosts going and they controlled the opening 20 minutes as United struggled to hold on to the ball.
For all their possession in dangerous areas, Stanley only once opened up United's defence before the break.
It came on 28 minutes from Naismith, who again cut in from the right, to fire in a shot which goalkeeper Ryan Clarke smartly saved with an outstretched left leg.
As the half wore on the U's gradually began to establish themselves going forward.
Danny Rose curled a free-kick which landed on the top of the net and their best moment of the half came from another set piece, in the 33rd minute.
Hunt swung in a delivery for Constable, who, despite not making good contact with his header, forced Bettinelli to turn the ball round the post.
The half ended on a low note, as Johnny Mullins went down clutching his right ankle after falling awkwardly.
He emerged again for the second half, but only to allow Ryan Williams time to complete his warm-up.
The enforced change was not ideal, but it gave United a more attacking look.
Williams quickly had a shot deflected wide for a corner and the visitors steadily increased their influence.
Rigg rippled the side netting with a sweetly-struck shot on his right foot on the hour.
A golden chance arrived midway through the half, when Rigg whipped in a cross which Kitson rose to nod a whisker wide.
Raynes, who had headed in a dramatic last-gasp equaliser in an FA Cup tie at the Crown Ground last season, almost came up with a carbon copy from Hunt's long throw, but Bettinelli held on.
The same players combined ten minutes from time, this time Raynes forced an even better parry from Bettinelli. The rebound fell to Williams, who could only find the side netting.
It was the visitors' clearest chance before the final whistle and they survived a tense moment in stoppage time, when Tom Newey gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position, but Lee Naylor could only strike it straight at Clarke.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Mullins (Williams 47), Raynes, Wright, Hunt, Whing, Rose, Newey, Rigg, Kitson, Constable.
Unused subs: Crocombe, Bevans, Ruffels, O'Dowda, Hall, Smalley.
Accrington: Bettinelli, Hunt, Aldred, Winnard, Naylor, Mingoia (Hatfield 83), Joyce, Murphy, Naismith, Webber (Richardson 71), Gray (McCartan 88).
Unused subs: Dunbavin, Miller, Carver, Windass.
Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire).
Attendance: 1,476 (376 visitors).