It has been another week of twists and turns in the race for promotion as stumbling Oxford picked up just one point over the Easter bank holiday. A disappointing injury time defeat to Northampton Town was followed by a complete whirlwind of a game against promotion rivals Torquay United.
At the end of the match on Monday it was difficult to decide whether we had done well to gain just the one point or frustrated at not taking all three.
With the Gulls taking an early lead there was a fear that the U’s would be in for a tough 90 minutes. However we hung on until half time, which gave Chris Wilder the chance to sort things out. Whatever he said did the trick as United came out and dominated the second half, scoring two superb goals, Adam Chapman’s strike from a corner particular highlight.
Then there was the turning point, and one that seems to dog Oxford in every game it occurs, Torquay’s Ian Morris was sent off. As has happened quite a few times this season, when someone from the opposing team have seen red, Oxford were the team to pay the price.
Now this may seem strange that the opposition have a man sent off and then benefit from it, but unfortunately it has been a harsh reality for yellows fans. We seem to fall apart and for whatever reason cannot defend against ten men.
This time was no different and Torquay equalised with a sickening goal, again late into the game.
However it was Oxford’s very own Mr Reliable Ryan Clarke whose save actually helped the ball in. Throughout the second half Clarke was clearly having trouble with a knock and was unable to take any goal kicks. It looked to be a factor in the late goal and what may be even worse for United fans as it’s unclear how long the injury will keep him out for.
If the stopper does miss any games then Wayne Brown will step in for only the third time since signing in the summer. Such is the consistency of Clarke that he has not missed a minute of league football in over two years and as a result Brown has only managed to feature in two Johnstone’s Paint Trophy games, and in one was sent off after 12 minutes. He is very experienced though and the belief among Oxford fans is that he will be an able replacement for Clarke if it comes down to it. However this is not the time to lose one of our most important players as the season comes to a boil so hopefully we will soon see Clarke back in goal for the U’s before long.
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