4:54pm Saturday 18th February 2012
By Mark Edwards
Oxford United extended their good away form, but had to settle for a 0-0 draw at Bristol Rovers today.
The point makes it six games unbeaten for Chris Wilder's side, but they will be disappointed not to have got more of the game with home keeper Michael Poke man-of-the-match.
James Constable had a header cleared off the line and Poke saved well from Constable, twice and Liam Davis as the U's created the best openings.
Scott Rendell also had chances to get the all-important goal, the closest the hosts coming during two breakaways in injury time, that both times needed superb tackles from Jake Wright to block their efforts on goal.
The game survived a 1.30 pitch inspection, where it was very touch and go whether the game would go ahead.
Puddles and mud covered the Memorial Stadium pitch, but referee Phillip Gibbs deemed the surface playable - and he was right.
By kick-off the ground staff had done a great job and although the mud remained, the puddles had gone.
Boss Chris Wilder made two changes from the side that beat Dagenham, Damian Batt and Mehdi Kerrouche starting.
Batt, back after suspension, came in for Asa Hall, while Kerrouche was preferred to Oli Johnson.
Andy Whing switched to the centre of midfield to allow Batt his regular right back slot, Kerrouche playing just behind James Constable and Scott Rendell.
It was a decent start to the game, with Constable controlling a Peter Leven pass well, before cutting inside and launching a right-foot shot that Rovers keeper Michael Poke pushed behind for a corner.
Kerrouche looked lively and from his pass, Leven had a shot that was cleared by Cian Bolger at full stretch.
At the other end, a fine run from Danny Woodards saw him skip past three United defenders, but Ryan Clarke came out well to smother the ball behind.
A scrappy passage of play followed, before United really turned the screw ten minutes before half-time.
After some good work from Constable, Rendell will maybe feel he should have done better with a cross that he missed with his head.
Kerrouche then produced a great cross that saw Rendell's shot blocked by Bolger.
United had a good spell of prressure and from Leven's corner, Constable's header was nodded off the line by Lee Brown in the 42nd minute.
At the other end, Leven got in a great block to deny Woodards an effort on goal.
United started the second half well, and almost went ahead within four minutes.
A long Ryan Clarke kick was flicked on by Rendell and although Constable could not quite get there, the ball fell for Kerrouche, whose effort was saved by Poke.
The U's were then denied by a fine save from Poke from Davis's shot.
Davis found Leven, whose back-heel was layed off by Constable to the left back, whose shot was destined for the corner until Poke's left hand pushed it behind.
Rendell had two chances, but failed to trouble Poke, once shooting well wide, and then heading straight at the keeper.
The closest Rovers came was when Jake Wright could not clear the ball and Brown fired in a left-foot shot that went inches of of Clarke's upright.
The hosts went close again with 16 minutes to go when Chris Zebroski fired wide from 18 yards with Clarke beaten, Constable then saw a shot saved, and with six minutes left Whing appealed for a penalty after his header from Leven's corner looked to strike the arm of a defender, but referee Gibbs was unmoved.
Wright threw his body in the way of two late attempts on goal from Rovers as it ended honurs-even.
Bristol Rov: Poke, Woodards, Bolger, Parkes, Paterson, Dorman (Carayol 60), Gill, Lund, Brown, Zebroski (McGleish 82), Anyinsah (Richards 67). Subs:Bevan, Stanley. Booked: Bolger.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Batt, Duberry, Wright, Davis, Wilson (Johnson 67), Whing, Leven, Kerrouche (Holmes 60), Rendell, Constable. Subs: Worley, Hall, Tonkin.. Booked: Whing, Kerrouche.
Attendance: 6,512 (1,090 from Oxford).
© Copyright 2001-2014 Newsquest Media Group