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  • "If we want automatic promotion we should be taking 3pts from struggling teams. Draws won't take us up. Resurrection of home form is a bright spot let's hope this continues. Good to see youngsters given a chance to shine.Next two games against teams in 20th&21st in league so 6pts not beyond us. Would be nice to see a few more goals too - I feel we have a 4 goal thumping to hand out soon."
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Bury 1 (Jones 56) Oxford Utd 1 (Ruffels 58) + Video

Oxford United's Deane Smalley leaps high for a header at Bury

Oxford United's Deane Smalley leaps high for a header at Bury

First published in U's News
Last updated
Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Reporter covering Oxford United. Follow us on twitter: @oxfordmailoufc. Call me on 01865 425458

OXFORD United's remarkable unbeaten away run in Sky Bet League Two was extended to 13 games as they earned a hard-fought point at Bury.

Josh Ruffels headed a first goal for the club just two minutes after Craig Jones had put the hosts in front.

Bury's fluid display belied their lowly league position and United had to work extremely hard to keep parity, showing all the grit and determination which have been key elements in the away run.

A win would have taken Mickey Lewis' side second in the table, but on the balance of play they were the happier of the two sides at the final whistle.

Callum O'Dowda was handed a first league start, replacing the injured Sean Rigg in the only change to the U's side which started Saturday's 2-1 win against AFC Wimbledon.

The 18-year-old showed no signs of nerves early on, taking care of possession and looking bright on the left flank.

United were only able to use the young winger sporadically in the first half hour, though, as they prioritised containing their hosts.

Bury began the evening just two points above the relegation zone, but they looked anything but a struggling side from the outset.

David Flitcroft's confident side were determined to play the ball out from the back, even on a sticky playing surface.

It was a risky tactic, but they largely got away with it and kept the ball well, attacking with pace down the flanks.

Top scorer Anton Forrester had the best chance of the first half on ten minutes, rising to meet a cross from the right. He made a good connection, but his header thumped into the turf, giving Ryan Clarke an opportunity to scramble to his right and save.

United also looked happy to play when they got the ball.

On 18 minutes Deane Smalley bustled into the box and pulled the ball back for Danny Rose, who shot wide under pressure.

But the balance of play was with the Shakers, with Forrester a real handful up front. The striker spun Tom Newey midway through the half, before smashing a shot into the fans behind the goal.

United worked hard to limit Bury's sights of goal and looked more threatening going forward as the half wore on.

Tom Newey forced a save from goalkeeper Brian Jensen and Nicky Wroe laid on a tricky volleyed chance for Smalley, who could only divert the ball back across goal.

After all their neat play in the first half, Bury almost caught United cold seconds after the break with a long ball from Jensen.

A flick-on almost fell for Grimes, but Clarke sprinted off his line to smother.

Bury's intentions were clear and Flitcroft quickly threw on the dangerous Danny Nardiello.

They were ahead 11 minutes into the second half, when Clarke spilled a cross and Jones was on hand to shoot into the empty net.

The goalkeeper complained he had been fouled, but less than two minutes later United were back on level terms.

Smalley won a corner, from which Rose found Ruffels to head past Jensen.

Lewis brought on Dave Kitson and David Connolly just after the hour mark, but it was Bury who looked more likely to score a second goal.

With 19 minutes left Clarke made a superb save to turn a deflected shot from Nardiello round the post.

The goalkeeper was also tested from range by Andrew Tutte, which he punched clear.

An injury to Jensen held the game up late on, leading to seven minutes of stoppage time.

It provided plenty of tense moments, but United held firm.

Oxford Utd (4-1-4-1): Clarke, Bevans, Hunt, Mullins, Newey, Wroe, Smalley, Rose, Ruffels, O'Dowda, Constable.

Subs used: Kitson (O'Dowda 64), Connolly (Constable 63).

Unused subs: Henly, Long, Lynn, Davies, Marsh.

Booked: Newey, Hunt.

Bury (3-4-1-2): Jensen, Mills, Veseli, McNulty, Jones, Miller, Tutte, Sedgwick, Grimes (Nardiello 50), Akpa Akpro (Platt 73), Forrester (Soares 80).

Unused subs: Hinds, Procter, Burke, Charles-Cook.

Booked: None.

Attendance: 2,303 (204 visitors).

Referee: Graham Horwood (Bedfordshire).

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