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Oxford Utd 0, Exeter City 0
Oxford United 0 Exeter City 0
DAVE Kitson was sent off as Oxford United shared a goalless draw for the second time in four days.
The striker picked up a second booking in the first minute of stoppage time for a trip to sour a night where the U's were the better side, but could not find a breakthrough.
They had spells of pressure either side of half-time, but paid for a lack of accuracy as Grecians goalkeeper Artur Krysiak had few shots to save.
The result kept both sides in the division's leading pack, but Kitson's late lunge means the hosts will be without the striker for Saturday's trip to AFC Wimbledon.
United made one enforced change to their starting line-up from Saturday's goalless draw at Accrington Stanley.
Johnny Mullins was ruled out with an ankle problem, so Ryan Williams came in for only his second league start.
The first half was played out in stormy conditions, with streaks of lightning behind the Oxford Mail Stand adding drama.
On the pitch, which was drenched by a torrential downpour before the game, the opening between two sides who started the night in the top four was cagey.
United controlled possession, but found it difficult to pick out a man in the final third.
Exeter had the first good chance, which began with a U's corner on 20 minutes.
James Constable failed to read a Danny Rose pass on the edge of the box and the Grecians flooded forward, with John O'Flynn forcing Ryan Clarke into a smart save from Liam Sercombe's cross.
The visitors looked dangerous on the break and Jake Wright was needed to make an excellent block to deny O'Flynn another good chance just before the half hour mark.
United's patient approach began to pay dividends late in the half.
Sean Rigg provided most of their attacking inspiration in an encouraging spell before half-time.
One run five minutes before the break saw the winger burst into the box with two players in his wake, but Artur Krysiak dived to keep out the low shot.
The winger also fizzed a shot just wide from 20 yards, while Scott Bennett made a terrific sliding tackle to snuff out a chance for Ryan Williams after a quickly-taken free-kick from Danny Rose.
Kitson headed wide from a Hunt cross early in the second half as United continued to probe for a breakthrough.
Exeter boss Paul Tisdale responded with a double change and within seconds David Wheeler tested Clarke from distance.
It did not alter the balance of the game, which saw United continue to knock on the door.
Constable had a great chance just after the hour, rising to meet a Rose corner, but the striker could not keep his header down.
Williams looked the main threat, but the young winger often got into good positions before making the wrong decision. He was replaced by Scott Davies midway through the half.
Rigg steered another effort wide, but United's threat appeared to fade in the final 20 minutes.
Tyrone Marsh was thrown on for the tiring Constable, but any hope of a late winner disappeared when Kitson received a second yellow for a trip in the centre circle.
Oxford Utd (4-4-2): Clarke, Hunt, Raynes, Wright, Newey, Williams, Whing, Rose, Rigg, Kitson, Constable.
Subs used: Davies (Williams 68), Marsh (Constable 80) Unused subs: Hall, Crocombe, Bevans, O'Dowda, Ruffels.
Booked: Kitson, Hunt.
Exeter (4-4-2): Krysiak, Baldwin, Bennett, Coles, Woodman, Keohane (Wheeler 54), Sercombe, Doherty (Gill 54), Davies, Gow, O'Flynn (Parkin 80).
Unused subs: Moore-Taylor, Tillson, Grimes, Pym.
Booked: Doherty, Coles, Sercombe.
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire).
Attendance: 5,083 (362 visitors).
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