OXFORD United were held to a draw at home to Reading in the first league derby between the sides to be played at Grenoble Road.

Mark Harris handed United the lead when he turned in Cameron Brannagan’s cross shortly after the half hour mark, however a Ciaron Brown own goal with 14 minutes to go ensured the points were shared.

We had a look at the key talking points from the game.

READ ALSO: Our player ratings after Oxford United draw derby clash with Reading

Not enough spark

Too many of United’s creative players had quiet performances and were unable to have an influence on the game.

The likes of Marcus McGuane, Ruben Rodrigues and Tyler Goodrham didn’t show what they are capable of in the final third, while Greg Leigh also failed to offer his usual attacking impetus from left back.

There was a lack of punch from the U’s in attacking areas, with Brannagan pretty much the sole player who looked fired up for the occasion.

He and Tyler Burey appeared the most realistic players to provide ammunition for Harris up front.

That was proven when Burey hung a cross from the right-hand side to Brannagan, who took the ball to the byline, before squeezing it across for Harris to tap in.

Burey was also bright in midweek, in the 2-2 draw at home to Portsmouth, and should be a solid addition to United.

The 23-year-old clearly has an abundance of pace and trickery, and the next step for the winger will be to convert that into goals and assists.

Oxford Mail:

Stephan Negru at right back

It’s been well-documented that U’s head coach Des Buckingham has been dealt a shoddy hand when it comes to injuries.

A fresh selection of players were unavailable for the derby clash, including Fin Stevens and Oisin Smyth.

With Sam Long still absent due to the concussion protocols, it meant United were without their two right backs (Long and Stevens) plus Mr Versatile in Smyth, who has covered the position at times this season.

It meant Buckingham had a selection dilemma. His choice was to keep the shape which did so well against Pompey, and throw Negru in at right back, or switch to a back three.

Buckingham decided to slot centre back Negru on the right of the back four, and the 21-year-old showed both the good and the bad against Reading.

His clipped ball forward released Burey in the lead-up to the U’s opener, however he was caught out by substitute Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan, who strolled past him and played the dangerous cross which Brown was forced to put into his own net, amid pressure from Sam Smith.

Harris goalscoring form

After ending 2023 with a run of 11 games without a goal in all competitions, Harris has now bagged six goals in eight games in 2024.

Keeping that sort of momentum could well be the difference for United in their hunt for promotion, while it will do the Welsh striker good as he battles with January recruit Will Goodwin, who is set to be available for the first time when the U’s travel to Blackpool next weekend.