Harrison earns Stevenage a point at 10-man Oxford United
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage picked up their first league point in six weeks with a draw at 10-man Oxford United.
The home side, under the guidance of Michael Appleton, are second in the League Two table and had embarrassed Boro 5-1 when the two sides met at the Lamex back in September.
Yet here United were dealt an early blow when they had John Lundstram sent off for a hard challenge on Michael Tonge on 16 minutes.
They then went ahead thanks to Liam Sercombe’s left-footed effort before Byron Harrison grabbed Stevenage a point with 20 minutes of the match remaining.
Stevenage began the game with two new loan players in their starting XI, with midfielder Keith Keane (Cambridge United) filling in at right-back and Bradley Pritchard (Leyton Orient) coming into midfield.
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There was also a place on the bench for QPR winger Jake Mulraney following injury, while Charlie Adams, signed on a short-term deal the day of the game, was also named as a substitute.
Oxford were reduced to 10 men when Lundstram was sent off for a hard tackle on Tonge in what was a needless challenge in the middle of the pitch from the former Everton man.
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Yet although Boro now had a man advantage, they weren’t able to make it count in an attacking sense.
The last time these two sides met here, in September 2014, there were three shots on target all game and although there was endeavour from both teams there was a lack of creativity.
It was the same here for the opening 45 minutes, though the half almost saw a goal when United were awarded a penalty at a corner after Danny Hylton was pulled to the ground at the far post by Jamie Jones.
The striker had backed into him, but the goalkeeper put both hands around the forward before pulling him back.
The referee issued him with a yellow card, but Jones then made up for his mistake with a fine, low stop from Sercombe’s penalty
Sercombe made up for that miss 15 minutes into the second period when he put the hosts ahead.
Kemar Roofe, so often the scorer for the Us this season, provided the assist. He waited for Sercombe’s late run into the box and found his team-mate unmarked, with Sercombe using his left foot to fire across Jones and inside the far post.
Oxford looked like the side with the extra man and they controlled possession as the clocked ticked on. Glenn Roeder, appointed as a managerial adviser in the week, was in the technical area discussing tactics with caretaker Darren Sarll when Boro, out of nothing, pulled a goal back.
It was Stevenage’s first shot on target, with 20 minutes to go, and it came when Luer’s cut back was fired past Benji Buchel by Harrison.
Tom Pett, a half-time substitute, then had a shot fly wide of target as Stevenage went in search of a winner but no other goals were forthcoming as the game ended in a stalemate.
With the Yeovil Town game on Easter Monday now re-arranged, next up for Boro is a trip to local rivals Luton Town on April 2.
Oxford United: Buchel, Skarz, Roofe, Mullins, Wright, Sercombe, Hylton, MacDonald (Ruffels 54), Lundstram, Bowery (Waring 75), Dunkley. Subs: Slocombe, Giles, Long, Ashby, Maguire.
Stevenage: Jones, Wilkinson, Keane, Luer, Harrison, Tonge (Pett 46), Parrett, Wells (Johnson 90), Okimo, Pritchard (Conlon 79), Gorman. Subs: Day, Whelpdale, Mulraney, Adams.
Att: 7980 (262)