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17:00 24th January 2015

Match report: Oxford 2 Exeter City 2

Exeter City and Oxford United shared the spoils with a 2-2 draw at the Kassam Stadium in Sky Bet League 2.

The hosts had the better of the chances in the first period and striker Danny Hylton fired them into the lead early on, but City went into the break level as Arron Davies struck from outside the area.

It looked like the Grecians would travel back to Devon with all three points when Alex Nicholls applied the finishing touch on a set-piece, but U’s sub James Roberts struck minutes later in injury time to square things up again.

Graham Cummins and Alex Nicholls both started for City, having each come on from the bench last time out against Mansfield.  Clinton Morrison and Ryan Harley were the two to make way, and dropped out of the matchday squad completely with injury.

Neither goalkeeper was truly tested in the first quarter of an hour – Grecians stopper James Hamon had a little bit of fielding to do when the U’s midfield tried to slide passes through, and Ryan Clarke was untroubled when a shot from distance by Tom Nichols was blocked out by Josh Ruffels.

The first real chance came as Callum O’Dowda wormed into the area down the left and cut back for Patrick Hoban, who just delayed long enough for Craig Woodman to make an important block and deny the Irish striker a goal on his full debut.

However the Grecians were trailing soon after as O’Dowda put in a powerful cross which took a deflection on the way to the back post, where Hylton was arriving to volley in his 12th league goal of the campaign.


City had to make a first sub of the game with only a quarter of the match played, as Scot Bennett was replaced in defence by Christian Ribeiro – it also meant for a change of shape for the Grecians, with Arron Davies pushing into midfield.

Ribeiro was soon adding energy on the overlap and came close to getting an assist against his name when David Noble found him neatly in the channel, but the low cross was intercepted well.

Striker Hylton had a decent opportunity to double his and Oxford’s tally as a ball into the area was headed into his path, but the volley was a few yards wide.


But despite having to defend for much of the half, the Grecians were back on par before the break through Davies.

After Nichols had drawn a foul smartly on halfway, Woodman raked a direct ball forward for Cummins to nod down – and Davies was arriving on the edge of the area to strike in past Clarke on the half-volley.

Half-time: Oxford United 1 Exeter City 1

Exeter came out of the blocks quickly in the second period and within a minute Nichols had registered a shot from the best part of 35 yards, though it didn’t trouble Clarke between the sticks.

Then Ribeiro forayed forward into the area and hit a shot with his left that just cleared the crossbar as Exeter looked to open a lead.

Opportunities then took a bit of a lull, with neither goalkeeper really being forced into any saves for a while.  But then Woodman saw space to burst into down the left and after beating two men, hecut back for Nichols – the striker pirouetted to make space and struck a yard wide from outside the area.

Oxford’s chances were in particularly short supply after the break, and a rare chance for the U’s saw Danny Rose play a neat one-two outside the area before blazing over the bar.

Ruffels then had a decent opening as a deep corner came all the way through to the back post, and his shot on the bounce with his left foot landed in the car park.


Cummins was replaced by David Wheeler with 20 minutes remaining, as Paul Tisdale looked to add some fresh legs to his attack.  Soon after a deep free-kick from Davies almost found the sub after it skimmed off a head, but it was just out of reach.

Jordan Moore-Taylor made an important block low at the feat of Josh Ashby when the U’s came again, and a low cross from home sub James Roberts saw Hamon draw a foul as he went down bravely at the feet of Hylton.


And with the clock ticking down towards the final whistle, City took the lead for the first time through Nicholls – a corner was headed back into the danger area and the former Northampton man looped a second header over Clarke and into the net.

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But Oxford clawed back level in stoppage time as sub James Roberts found half a yard to get a shot away from outside the area, and found the back of the net via the inside of the post.

Full-time: Oxford United 2 Exeter City 2

Oxford United: Clarke; Long, Mullins, Wright, Meades; Rose, Ashby, Ruffels (Burns 89); O’Dowda (Roberts 66); Hoban, Hylton.
Unused subs: Crocombe, Whing, Humphries, Dunkley, Campbell.
Goals: Hylton (17), Roberts (90).

Exeter City: Hamon; Davies, Bennett (Ribeiro 21), Oakley, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Noble (Butterfield), Sercombe, Nicholls; Nichols, Cummins (Wheeler 70).
Unused subs: Pym, Keohane, Tillson, Jay.
Goals: Davies (37), Nicholls (87).

Attendance: 6,791 (512 away).

Referee: Graham Horwood