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Oxford United 2 (Chapman 59, Montano 68) Torquay United 2 (Howe 17, Atieno 90)
OXFORD United conceded a late goal for the second game in a row as they were pegged back by ten-man Torquay United at the Kassam Stadium.
Ryan Clarke got a hand to Taiwo Atieno’s shot, but the ball spun into the net as the U’s were denied victory.
The hosts had appeared to be heading for a precious three points as goals from Adam Chapman and Cristian Montano after half-time cancelled out Rene Howe’s opener.
United had chances to finish off Torquay, who were reduced to ten men when Ian Morris was dismissed, but a failure to score the third goal proved costly.
James Constable returned to the starting line-up, replacing Scott Rendell in one of three changes to the XI from the 2-1 defeat at Northampton Town on Good Friday.
The other two alterations were enforced, with Harry Worley coming in at centre half for the suspended Michael Duberry, while Andy Whing deputised for the injured Peter Leven.
After two successive defeats the U’s adopted a shoot on sight policy early on.
Dean Morgan blazed over from long range in the second minute and Asa Hall tested Robert Olejnik with a curling effort which the Gulls goalkeeper tipped over the crossbar.
The hosts looked bright going forward and more neat interplay allowed Cristian Montano a shooting chance in the eighth minute, which the West Ham loanee fired wide.
If the aim was to get the crowd fired up, it worked and the Kassam Stadium was noisy until it was suddenly silenced on 17 minutes.
A ball in behind the United back four looked fairly innocuous, but Worley slipped in attempting to pass back to Clarke.
The lurking Howe swooped to intercept and coolly slotted past the United goalkeeper for his 14th goal of the season.
Torquay, second in the table, were composed in possession and Damon Lathrope almost made it 2-0 midway through the half with a powerful 25-yard shot which Clarke could only parry with his chest.
Howe had the ball in the net for a second time on 27 minutes, but United were rescued by an offside flag.
Chris Wilder’s men had plenty of the ball but had difficulty in picking apart the Torquay defence and most of their efforts came from outside of the box.
Their best attacking move came on 34 minutes when Asa Hall salvaged a lost cause and found Constable, who set up Morgan to drive a shot just past the post.
A mistake from Olejnik almost gifted an equaliser on the stroke of half-time, spilling Chapman’s free-kick to Hall, whose shot was blocked by the recovering goalkeeper.
Constable was withdrawn at the break, but the first chance of the second half fell to Howe.
The big striker was inadvertently played in by U’s skipper Jake Wright and he rounded Clarke, only to see his shot cleared off the line by Worley.
Howe picked up the rebound and crossed for Eunan O’Kane to tap in, but again the Gulls were denied by an offside flag.
United responded well and a clever flick from Hall put Chapman in. The midfielder’s shot was saved by Olejnik into Hall’s path ten yards out, but with the goalkeeper out of position the midfielder’s shot was brilliantly blocked by Brian Saah.
It was enough to change the mood of the Kassam Stadium and United pinned Torquay back.
A goal seemed inevitable and it spectacularly arrived on 59 minutes, when Chapman whipped a corner straight into the net.
United had their tails up and a first-time shot from Morgan almost made it 2-1 with the next attack, but Olejnik punched clear.
Yellow shirts poured forward and it paid off on 68 minutes, when they took the lead with a terrific move.
Chapman latched on to a loose ball and found Hall, who played in Batt on the overlap. The full back slid in to hang up a cross which was perfect for Montano to head home.
United were playing some fantastic football going forward and should have made it 3-1 with one move on 76 minutes which cut Torquay to ribbons.
Breaking from their own box, one-touch passing put Montano away, but his cross was just in front of an unmarked Rendell.
Torquay were reduced to ten men with 11 minutes to go, when Morris was late on a tackle with Andy Whing, who was booked for his reaction.
United looked well set to claim a precious three points, but they were unable to score the decisive third goal.
Torquay should have been out of the game, but in the 90th minute they claimed an equaliser when Atieno’s shot was turned in by Clarke.
Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Clarke, Batt, Worley, Wright, Davis, Chapman, Whing, Hall, Montano (Johnson 85), Constable (Rendell 46), Morgan.
Unused subs: Tonkin, Wilson, Pittman.
Booked: Whing Torquay Utd (4-1-4-1): Olejnik, Oastler, Saah, Ellis, Nicholson, Lathrope, Morris, Mansell, O’Kane, Stevens (Jarvis 70), Howe (Atieno 62).
Unused subs: Rice, Rowe-Turner, MacDonald.
Booked: Morris, Mansell Sent off: Morris Attendance: 7,867 (746 visitors)