Stalemate and a point for Cheltenham Town this afternoon but it was a performance deserving of victory.
The Robins were controlling for the majority of the game but couldn't find that illusive goal to hand them maximum points. Marlon Pack and debutant Ben Burgess came closest but Oxford held firm for 90 minutes and could have even hurt Cheltenham with a late Leven freekick.
A point is point and it stops the losing run. Cheltenham deserved much more but it's a step in the right direction.
Mark Yates made a number of changes this afternoon including a formation change which saw the 4-4-2 diamond dusted off and brought back into use. There were three personnel changes in total with Darryl Duffy replacing Jimmy Spencer and both Ben Burgess and Steve MacLean handed debuts at the expense of Keith Lowe and Kaid Mohamed. Burgess partnered Duffy up front while MacLean took up the attacking midfield role in the diamond.
Whaddon Road is a beautiful place to be when the sun is beaming down upon it but that picturesque setting would mean nothing without a possitive result for Cheltenham Town. Both teams started well with both team aggresive in possession. The Robins had the first attack of the day but a link up between Burgess and Duffy failed to make an instant impact. Darryl Duffy came very close to an early goal when Marlon Pack pulled a neat ball across goal but Oxford captain Jake Wright was on hand to divert the effort past the post for a corner. Impressive start to the partnership of Burgess and Duffy.
Notts County forward Ben Burgess was quite obviously making himself known to the Oxford defenders in the early stages and the early signs were positive. In fact those early signs were so positive that Ryan Clarke had to make a double save after ten minutes when he had to react to Duffy's header following a Jombati effort. Cheltenham Town kept that pressure up and could have again opened the scoring but a Luke Summerfield header was just directed wide of goal.
Oxford settled into the game a lot more after that point but it was still Cheltenham who were controlling proceedings. Peter Lleven was booked midway through the half for a deliberate block on a quick freekick. Oxofrd's best effort up to this point came from Halls' left wing cross to the head of Constable but the powerful striker could only see his effort fly high over the bar. It was a pretty even contest from that point in although Ben Burgess could have had a debut to remember catching onto a Russ Penn cross but unfortunately seeing it float wide.
The game was almost turned on it's head when Jombati left a loose leg training inside the area but he was fortunate to have not made contact with Dean Morgan. The Chesterfield loanee did throw himself down but the referee was confident to wave it away as a poor effort of a dive. Cheltenham had their own close call minutes later when Garbutt was brought down 20 yards from goal but Pack's freekick was thumped against the crossbar. The half time whistle blow with Cheltenham on top but without the goal they so deserved.
Half Time: Cheltenham Town 0-0 Oxford United
It was more of the same from Cheltenham as soon as they started this half but perhaps without the chances they would have liked. The commitment was there and that almost set up the first goal of the day when MacLean's determination set up Summerfield on the wide left and his ball found the incoming Pack but the effort was wide of the far post. It was Summerfield again moments later when he picked up on a Burgess header but his volley was weak and Duffy, who was offside, was only able to steer a second effort wide.
The first change of the game came at 54 minutes with Oli Johnson replacing Scott Rendell up front. That alteration did little to halt what had been a controlling Cheltenham display however but the Robins were still unable to create anything noteworthy on the attack although Marlon Pack gave it a good go with a rasping 35 yard drive which ended high over the Hazlewoods stand. Attempts on goal from Jombati and Summerfield just after the hour mark unsettled the Oxford defence before Burgess steered a vital opportunity wide of goal following Marlon Pack's driving shot.
Oxford Replaced Dean Morgan with West Ham loanee Cristian Montano and Jimmy Spencer was also introduced at the expense of MacLean on 68 minutes in an effort to speak some kind of goal mouth action for both sides. Cheltenham had another half chance on 72 minutes when Burgess was able to get a strike in at goal from the edge of the area but the debutant could only watc has his effort sail wide of goal. Another strike from Luke Summerfield following the head down from Burgess threatened the Oxford goal but once again it was wide and once again Cheltenham had to start their attack all over again in search of a deserved opener.
Kaid Mohamed was introduced on 79 minutes and replaced the hard working Darryl Duffy but Cheltenham were still firing blanks much to their fristration. They were deserving of the lead and Mark Yates made his final change by bringing Josh Low on for Russ Penn late on. Peter Leven had the Cheltenham Town supporters on the edge of their seats when he narrowly missed from a 20 yard freekick - the midfielder always a risk from a set piece.
Three minutes were added onto the 90 and it was three minutes for the Robins to claim what they deserved. Josh Low went on a tricky run down the right wing and forced a foul fro mLeven to give Cheltenham a freekick far out on the right and Garbutt's cross was punched wide by Clarke but the final whistle blew before the corner could be taken and a point apiece was the result of the day for Cheltenham and Oxford. The Robins deserved the win but a point stops the losing run and now attention must turn to Southend.
Full Time: Cheltenham Town 0-0 Oxford United
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2 Diamond): Butland (GK); Jombati, Bennett (C), Elliott, Garbutt; Penn (Low 86), Pack, Summerfield, MacLean (Spencer 68); Burgess, Duffy (Mohamed 79)
Subs not used: Lowe,, McGlashan
Oxford United FC (4-4-2): Clarke (GK); Batt, Worley, Wright (C), Davis; Hall, Leven, Whing, Morgan (Montano 68); Constable, Rendell (Johnson 54)
Subs not used: Tonkin, Wilson, Chapman
Referee: Mr. Paul Tierney
Attendance: 4,365 (1514 from Oxford)
Robins Star Man:Luke Summerfield - He played well throughout and controlled the midfield tempo for 90 minutes. He'll be disappointed not to capitalise on chances but very good performance.
James Brown from the Abbey Business Stadium