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Oxford Utd 0 Harriers 0

Date: 29-12-07 Venue: Kassam Stadium att: 5380 away fans: 274
Harriers held at Oxford
The Harriers dropped another two points in the holiday campaign when they drew their second game in a row.  After going so close to winning at Forest Green we were very hopeful of all three pints at a slowly fading Oxford Utd.  Sadly even though we applied pressure on the Utd defence throughout the game we found it hard to get a clearcut sight of goal and dithering around the penalty area cost us again.

We had just the one change from Boxing Day, Jeff Kenna - the Queen forgot him again! - came in for Paul Bignot who went to the bench.

This game was the re-match of the bad tempered game just over a month ago when James Constable was supposed to have poleaxed James Clarke and he got sent off but as we all know nothing of the sort happened and it was just poor refereeing and a cheating Oxford player that did the real damage.

The Oxford manager said yesterday that he wouldn't be playing Clarke because he didn't want him bullied by Harriers players out for revenge.  Instead he was picked to play and Clarke succeeded again in getting Constable booked.  He then took a dive soon after with Constable no where near him in an attempt to get him sent off.  Mark Yates took Beano off for his own safety and Clarke got away with crimes against football once more.

In windy conditions reminiscent of a game a few years ago at the Kassam when a roof blew off their cheaply built new stadium it was the home side that got the first attack on goal but it was only Phil Trainer testing the stand roof to see if it had been fixed yet.  His shot went flying well over Scott Bevan's crossbar.

The Harriers turn came next and we made a better effort when Constable's bullet header was blocked on the line by Joel Ledgister after leaving 'Spilly Billy' Turley well beaten.

The Harriers had a bit of a scare in the thirteenth minute when Ledgister sent in a cross that Gavin Hurren weakly headed straight into Yemi Odbuade's path but luckily for him Mark Creighton managed to reach the ball before the Utd striker could.  Gav was lucky he didn't get the same treatment off Creights that he did off Blackwood the other day.

Creighton came to the rescue again soon after when he cut out an inviting cross from Odubade that was meant for Rob Duffy.  The ball fell for Ledgister out wide but his cross back into the box overshot it by a mile.

The Harriers then took control of the game and kept Oxford resigned to the odd breakaway that would come to nothing because of our resilient defence.  We were now gaining corner after corner but, as usual for us, nothing was coming from them and they ended up being wasted.

In the thirty fourth minute Simon Russell had his first chance on goal.  His strong shot came from a Christie cross but although he hit the ball well it took a deflection on the way and fell into the arms of a grateful Turley.

The same duo tried to repeat the move again a few minutes later when Russell again sent in a fierce shot from outside the area only for Turley to collect it at the second attempt after dropping it the first time.  Russell spurned another good chance just prior to half time when Christie did well to get the ball across from the goal line to Scholesy but he then dithered and eventually tried to pass it to James Constable with Barry Quinn clearing it away before it reached him.

The teams went in for half time with the Harriers well on top but unable to take their chances.  Would the second half see an improvement?
HT: 0 - 0
Within the first minute of the second half we came the closest so far of taking the lead when we were awarded a free kick after a foul by Carl Pettefer on Russ Penn.  Sir Jeff took it and the ball went flying through the wall and struck the post with Turley well beaten.  Quinn got to the rebound first and headed it away to safety.

Soon after Oxford made a change to their line-up when Rob Duffy went off to be replaced by Ashley Barnes.  It was Barnes that scored their second goal at Aggborough recently just after he had come on as a substitute.

In the fifty sixth minute Scott Bevan and Barnes went up for a ball together and both came to ground injured.  Bev was the worse off and had to have treatment to a cut on his jaw.  Fozzie strapped it up with a bandage but it kept dropping off until Bevan eventually discarded it all together.

The game was starting to get bogged down now and in an effort to liven us up Yates took Iyseden Christie off and bought on Justin Richards in a straight swap.  Richards first touch of note was to backheel the ball into the area for Constable to run onto but Clarke beat him to it.  Beano fouled Clarke in the process and got his fifth booking of the season so that means he'll miss the York game next Saturday along with Andy Ferrell and Justin Richards.

The game turned nasty after that incident and Clarke went down with a flourish after Constable went near him.  James didn't actually touch him but it was enough to deceive the referee and a mini riot broke out.

An eighteen man brawl kicked off with Turley running half way across the pitch to join in.  Eventually once it had all calmed down Turley found himself in the book and Constable had been substituted with Matt Barnes-Homer for his own safety.

Oxford came close to breaking the deadlock soon after when Matt Taylor, on for Ledgister, sent a shot across the face of the goal that Odubade just failed to get a touch on.

Russell Penn was the next to miss the York visit when he too picked up his fifth booking of the season following a rash foul on Pettefer.

In the dying seconds of the game we came so close to snatching all three points through Barnes-Homer after his shot from a Michael Blackwood pass deflected off the former Hereford defender, Alex Jeanin, for a corner.  M B-H came close again in extra time when but he was just as guilty as the others when he took too long over picking just whereabouts in the net he wanted the ball to end up.  His shot was blocked by both Quinn and Clarke and the contest was over.

The aim of Mark Yates was for us to get nine points from these three Christmas period games.  That's looking like a Christmas miracle now with only a five point target on offer.  If we don't improve our shooting practice for New Years Day then that nine points could end up being just three at the most.
FT: 0 - 0

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Oxford Utd  subs   cards      Harriers  subs   cards 
Turley gif   Bevan  
Clarke     Kenna  
Corcoran     Blackwood  
Quinn     Hurren  
Jeannin     Creighton  
Ledgister     Ferrell  
Pettefer     Russell  
Hutchinson     Constable gif
Duffy     Christie  
Odubade     Penn  
Trainer gif   McGrath  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Warrell     Coleman  
Day     Barnes-Homer  
Taylor     Bignot  
Barnes     Smikle  
Benjamin     Richards  

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