Report: Oxford United 0 Exeter City 0
Exeter City and Oxford United played out an entertaining goalless draw at the Kassam Stadium, with veteran striker David Kitson sent off in stoppage time for the hosts.
For the first time this season, Paul Tisdale named a completely unchanged line-up as the previous game.
Following the win on Saturday against Scunthorpe, an identical matchday squad and starting XI were named for the Tuesday-night trip to the Kassam Stadium.
And a day that had been mild and fresh in Oxford turned violently thunderous just as the players were limbering up ahead of the 7.45pm start, meaning the Grecians kicked-off on a rain-sodden surface.
It was some time before either side had a noteworthy effort on goal, as the Grecians began with an adaptable, containing formation which nullified the U’s attack.
Sean Rigg was the first to register an effort with 20 minutes played – a 30-yard strike smacked of desperation and cleared the frame of the goal by a considerable distance.
It became clear that City were playing on the break when the Grecians went on their first collective foray with Alan Gow carrying the ball with runners either side. Jimmy Keohane fed Liam Sercombe on the right flank, and a teasing low ball allowed John O’Flynn to shoot from 12 yards – by Ryan Clarke spread himself well to foil the Irishman.
The home fans thought they had a route to goal when a ball pinged forward slipped its way into the path of James Constable – the striker was through but the flag was quickly raised, and correctly too.
City had a penalty shout turned away by the referee when Gow looked to be held in the box. Moments later, the U’s broke at the other end and Artur Krysiak had to readjust well to save from Sean Rigg, who shot across goal from wide left.
Scot Bennett was then called upon to deny Ryan Williams the chance to shoot from six yards after the midfielder had wriggled cleanly into the area, and then Rigg popped a shot away soon after from 25 yards and City’s stopper watched it wide.
Half-time: Oxford United 0 Exeter City 0
The Grecians almost got the second period off to a perfect start when Keohane nipped in across the defensive line – but the U’s rearguard caught up with play as the attacker broke and killed the Grecians’ initiative.
Former Premier League striker David Kitson was feeding on scraps for the hosts, and stood little chance of finding a header on target under pressure from a David Hunt cross.
With ten minutes of the second period played, David Wheeler and Matt Gill were introduced for Keohane and the yellow-carded Tommy Doherty.
And within seconds Wheeler had fired off a testing shot from his right-wing berth, which Clarke had to punch clear.
Referee Keith Stroud was presented with a rather daft situation, when Danny Coles and Hunt got into a bit of a scuffle. The City captain shoved the U’s midfielder after he had kicked a ball away well after being caught offside – the official took the sensible route and booked both offenders for their part in a needless scuffle.
Striker Constable was presented with the clearest chance of the match around the hour mark as a right-hand corner found the Oxford man unchallenged – he was clearly disappointed by his wayward effort.
Rigg again opted to shoot and missed wide of the far post from a narrow angle, shortly before John O’Flynn’s goalbound effort took a deflection wide of Clarke’s post.
Sam Parkin was introduced for the final ten minutes for O’Flynn, and was offering a new kind of threat to a tiring home defence. The striker was bundled over in the box soon after coming on, but it was little more than a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge and no spot-kick was forthcoming.
Arron Davies had a chance to win it on the 90-minute mark as a semi-cleared ball fell to him 20 yards from goal – but his effort was snatched wide under pressure.
And the hosts had to see out the game a man light as Kitson picked up a second yellow for a cynical foul on Davies in the centre of the field.
Full-time: Oxford United 0 Exeter City 0
Oxford United: Clarke; Hunt, Raynes, Wright, Newey; Williams (Davies 68), Whing, Rose, Rigg; Kitson, Constable (Marsh 80).
Subs (not used): Crocombe, Hall, Bevans, O’Dowda, Ruffels.
Exeter City: Krysiak; Baldwin, Bennett, Coles, Woodman; Davies, Doherty (Gill 54), Keohane (Wheeler 54), Sercombe; Gow; O'Flynn (Parkin 80).
Subs (not used): Exeter City subs: Pym, Moore-Taylor, Tillson, Grimes.
Attendance: 5,083 (362 away)
Referee: K. Stroud