Tuesday 21st February 2012 ko 7.45pm
OXFORD UNITED 2 (Rendell 43 Constable 56)
BARNET 1 (Hector 16) McLeod missed pen 84
Att 5,848 (139 away)
Programme £3 (inc Ox Mail)
If, dear reader you read my last OUFC report, you might be forgiven for thinking this report could have been difficult to write. Same score against a similar club, down at the bottom the league. Nope, dead easy this one, as it was a totally different game.
Maybe it was due to Chris Wilder changing OUFC’s formation, from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 with Oli Johnson playing right wing. On the other flank Lee Holmes made his full debut. There were 2 other little subplots with the referee being Stuart Attwell, in charge of his first game since being demoted from the elite Select Group Referees Panel. Also the game saw the return of former OUFC winger Sam Deering. Attwell had an excellent game, and Deering was roundly booed each and every time he touched the ball.
In an open game United were unfortunate to go a goal down. A free kick on the right was surprisingly reverse passed to right-back Michael Hector. Although he was given way too much time, the Reading loanee’s 18 yard shot went though a mass of legs and passed an unsighted Ryan Clarke into the bottom left corner.
Johnson’s weak shot was easily saved by Bees keeper Dean Brill, but the hosts were showing real industry (Andy Whing) and invention (Peter Leven) in midfield with Holmes the most usual outlet. James Constable’s stinging shot was blocked away by Brill, and Leven’s free kick hit the right net support post.
United equalised with a goal of real quality. Leven’s diagonal ball found Holmes on the left, and his curling cross was asking for someone to attack it. That someone was Scott Rendell, and his header was his first goal for the club.
Leven’s free kick after 50 minutes again found Rendell’s head but this time Brill did extremely well to turn the ball round his right post. 6 minutes later United took the lead, when Leven’s teasing free kick was mis-hit by Rendell and with the Bees’ defence totally square there was Constbale at the back post to tap in.
Whilst United had far more possession and chances, at 2-1 there was always a way back into the game for Barnet and they had two opportunities to gain something from the game. Once Andy Whing limped off United looked far less assured in midfield. Deering will have sleepless nights over his 6 yard miss, but on 84 minutes Barnet still had the opportunity to steal an undeserved point. Mark Byrne was ajudged to have been trippped by Damian Batt. Attwell thought it was in the box, and to be fair to him I watched the footage several times before deciding it was just outside.
Of course United have a lucky charm when it comes to penalties, and his name is Ryan Clarke. Izale McLeod’s penalty was poor, weak and down the middle, but the save had to be made and made it was, to make Clarke’s OUFC record 14 penalties faced and 11 saved. A statistic any keeper would be proud of.