Match report: Oxford United 0 Stevenage 0

Chris Day

Chris Day - Credit: Archant

Stevenage picked up more new injuries than they did points in a drab stalemate at the Kassam Stadium.

Boro’s play in the opening period lacked urgency and it took them until midway through the second half to have a chance of note, but although Oxford were able to push bodies forward as a consquence their display was also lacklustre at times.

Chris Day returned to the Stevenage starting XI because of an injury picked up by first choice keeper Sam Beasant late in the week, so there was a place on the bench for Tyler Reading who was a FA Youth Cup winner with Norwich City in May 2013.

The best chance on target in the entire game came when Oxford hotshot Danny Hylton tested Day with a low strike on six minutes, with the keeper dropping low to his right to deny the striker a seventh goal of the season.

The Us’ next chance had something of the ridiculous about it as Brian Howard floated a free-kick over to Joe Riley whose sliced volley from 30 yards flew well off target.

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Against Bury on Tuesday Michael Richens’ first start for Boro ended when he was substituted on 28 minutes. In the same minute at the Kassam the full-back had his side’s first shot of the game though it landed in the car park where a fourth stand should be.

Stevenage were dealt another injury blow before the break when Adam Marriott went down with a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Connor Calcutt, and 30 seconds later Hylton went close again for the hosts only to volley wide from 16 yards.

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Hylton continued to cause problems in the second period and Boro had Darius Charles and Day to thank for combining to deny the striker after the former Rotherham United man had cut inside following a run into the box.

There was then a welcome return following a six-month lay-off for Dean Parrett, though it came when Chris Whelpdale limped off to add to Boro’s injury woes.

The midfielder had last featured in a Boro shirt against MK Dons in March, but he was straight into the action and had his side’s first chance on target with just 12 minutes of the match remaining when he forced a low save out of on-loan Sheffield United goalkeeper George Long.

Hylton remained the home side’s biggest threat, and afterwards their manager Michael Appleton said that he had thought about replacing him with 10 minutes to go only to chose Brian Howard instead.

‘We thought he may have a goal in him’, Appleton said. And he was nearly right, only for the striker to waste two glorious chances.

The first saw him blast wide from eight yards after a move from a corner had seen the ball fall to him, while the second saw him go for glory instead of teeing up strike partner Tyrone Barnett who was in plenty of space in the box.

Taking on Chris Day once, Hylton tried to do it again to create space for the shot but instead the goalkeeper plucked the ball from him as the Oxford man blew his side’s last chance of all three points.

Oxford United: Long, Newey, Mullins, Wright, Ruffels, O’Dowda, Collins, Riley, Barnett, Howard (Brown 82), Hylton. Subs: Crocombe, Raynes, Rose, Morris, Potter, Jakubiak.

Stevenage: Day, Richens, Dembele, Wells, Henry, Whelpdale (Parrett 66), Lee, Charles, Beardsley, Marriott (Calcutt 44), Lancaster (Pett 45). Subs: Reading, Ashton, Gorman, Conlon.

Att: 4,658 (263 away)

Ref: C Kavanagh

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