OXFORD United extended their unbeaten run to four games as they dug out a goalless draw at a freezing Rochdale.

The visitors needed to show plenty of defensive resolve to preserve a clean sheet against a fired-up Dale on a testing playing surface which made fluent football nigh-on impossible.

Goalkeeper Simon Eastwood made several smart saves and on the one occasion he was beaten, Mike Williamson was on hand to head off the line.

Chances were in short supply at the other end, but the point did ensure Pep Clotet’s side went into the Christmas period with some momentum.

Ricardinho missed out on the trip north after his wife gave birth during the week, with Canice Carroll replacing him at left back in the only change to the side which started the win against Doncaster Rovers a week earlier.

Frost covers ensured the game could go ahead, but the temperature at Spotland was barely above freezing at kick-off.

United had shown plenty of grit in recent weeks and they needed a resilient side during a first half where Dale had the lion’s share of the half-chances.

Eastwood began a busy afternoon in the sixth minute, when he palmed away Steven Davies’s far post header from a quickly-taken corner.

The U’s attacking moments were few and far between before the break, but Donervon Daniels had to time his tackle perfectly to deny James Henry in the penalty area early on.

A corner midway through the half from Xemi led to United’s best opening before the interval. His driven effort to the near post was flicked on by Josh Ruffels and almost found its way into the net, before Dale scrambled the ball away.

While the hosts were hovering just above the bottom four, their position in the table owed much to a winless away record.

They are a different side at home and pinned United back at times – winning eight corners in the opening half-hour.

Callum Camps came closest to breaking the deadlock, forcing Eastwood into two smart saves.

The midfielder caught hold of one 25-yard effort sweetly, only to see the United goalkeeper turn the ball round the post.

It was the same outcome six minutes later, this time from a free-kick just outside the box conceded by Dwight Tiendalli.

That was as exciting as the first half got and - perhaps with a warm cup of tea in mind - referee Carl Boyeson blew for half-time without adding any stoppage-time.

United were on the back foot again when the second half began.

Joe Bunney became the latest player to be thwarted by Eastwood, who kept out the full back at the back post after he had been found by Ian Henderson’s clever pass.

At the other end Josh Lillis was forced into his first save by a Wes Thomas shot from 20 yards which was made more difficult by a deflection.

Back came the home side, who came close just after the hour mark.

A poor punch from Eastwood went to Camps, but his looping header from the edge of the box was cleared off the line by Mike Williamson.

Joe Rothwell and Gino van Kessel were introduced from the bench, but most of the pair’s attention was on defensive work as United dug in.

Unlike the Doncaster game, there was no drama in stoppage-time, as the shares were spoiled.

Rochdale (4-1-3-2): Lillis, Rafferty, McGahey, Daniels, Bunney, Rathbone, Camps, Done (Inman 83), Henderson, Davies (Williams 77), Andrew.

Unused subs: Moore, Ntlhe, McNulty, Keane, Gillam.

Booked: None.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): Eastwood, Tiendalli, Williamson, Mousinho, Carroll, Xemi (Ledson 84), Ruffels, Henry (Van Kessel 77), Payne (Rothwell 64), Mowatt, Thomas.

Unused subs: Shearer, Martin, Napa, Obika.

Booked: None.

Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire).

Attendance: 2,588 (visitors not given).