WHEN you play at home for 78 minutes against ten men, you should win the game. Simple.

Everyone connected with Oxford United will be hoping that come May, this is not a result that they look back at and think ‘if only’.

When Anthony Straker was shown a red card in the 12th minute for a trip on Lewis Guy, everything looked in place for Oxford to record a third straight League Two win.

And when James Constable made it 1-0 nine minutes later, it would have taken a very brave man to bet against the three points going to Chris Wilder’s side.

But the problem was that too many United players seemed to think the same.

They knocked the ball around well, and kept possession with ease. But there was no cutting edge at the top end of the pitch – especially in the second half.

Worryingly, you never felt that Oxford were in control, and the longer that the game went on, the more Aldershot grew in confidence.

When Luke Gutteridge fired them level midway through the second period, nobody could argue that they didn’t des-erve it.

And few would argue that at the end, aside from some belated pressure in the final minutes, Oxford deserved a point at best.

Yet it all started so well.

With neither side imposing themselves in the early minutes, the game changed when Peter Leven’s hooked ball sent Lewis Guy through on goal.

Guy got goalside of the Aldershot defence, and when his heels were clipped by Straker 20 yards out, once referee Andy Madley had given the foul, a red card had to follow.

Leven was just off target with the resulting free-kick, but nine minutes later Oxford got the crucial breakthrough.

A poor punch by visiting keeper Jamie Young ended at the feet of Constable 18 yards out.

Buoyed by his double strike at Swindon last week, Constable hit a left-foot volley back into the net. The ball seemed to take an age to go in, but nobody cared.

Constable then shot over after some good link-up play with Deane Smalley, and then from a probing Liam Davis run, Guy shot wide when he maybe should have scored.

But in truth, that was almost as good as it got.

Oxford kept possession well, but the home fans were getting more and more frustrated as their tempo dropped.

Passes began to go astray and they looked almost devoid of ideas in the final third.

This let the visitors regroup and twice go close through the lively Jermaine McGlashan and Alex Rodman.

At half-time, Alfie Potter replaced Simon Heslop for Oxford as they changed to a 4-4-2 formation, but the extra width failed to materialise.

By now United’s play was becoming disjointed and Aldershot started to take the upper hand, without really testing Ryan Clarke.

The visitors were enjoying more of the ball and their discipline meant that the hosts were getting more and more frustrated.

Aldershot got their reward for a prolonged spell of pressure when Luke Gutteridge fired home left-footed in the 67th minute after some less-than impressive defending.

The goal should have sparked Oxford back into life, but it didn’t.

It wasn’t until the final five minutes of normal time that they looked like getting a winner.

Michael Duberry stormed forward to try his luck from around 30 yards and this got the crowd going again.

From a corner in injury time Duberry headed back across goal, Jake Wright couldn’t find room for a shot, and when it dropped to Andrew Whing, he blazed over the bar.

It summed up United’s day.