RYAN Clarke starred as Oxford United ground out a point to begin the post-Chris Wilder era with a goalless draw at Exeter City.
It was a gritty display from the U’s on a difficult pitch, which extended their impressive unbeaten away run to 12 games.
But as well as watching the side struggling to create chances, caretaker boss Mickey Lewis also headed back from Devon with a defensive headache after Michael Raynes was forced off with a hip injury.
Clarke was United’s best performer, tipping one Arron Davies shot on to the bar early on, before saving a point-blank header from Danny Coles in stoppage time to ensure a share of the spoils.
The goalkeeper was clear which was his favourite.
He said: “Definitely the second one, because it was in the last minute.
Ryan Clarke saves Oxford again, fisting away this effort
“To be honest, he was only about four yards out and I didn’t think I had a hope in hell’s chance of saving it.
“I think it’s a great point away from home after all that’s happened this week.
“It’s been a really tough week mentally, but we stuck together and to come here and get a point I think is a great result.”
Raynes came into the side due to an injury to skipper Jake Wright, who is out for at least a month.
A collision in the first half caused the damage and Lewis is hoping the problem is not too serious.
He said: “I know the kid was in a lot of agony, he wanted to come out for the second half, but was in too much pain.
Michael Raynes challenges Exeter keeper Artur Krysiak, but was forced off at half-time through injury
“It’s disappointing and these things always seem to happen to players in the same position when you get injuries, but (David) Hunt went in there and did really well.”
He added: “I’ve enjoyed it (being in charge), we said to the lads that nothing changes, the set-up that Chris had is good and we are in that top five.
“You can always tinker with little things and we just want to keep it going.”