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Oxford United held to draw on US tour
Seacoast United Phantoms 1 Oxford United 1
OXFORD United extended their unbeaten run in pre-season to four games, but had to settle for a draw after conceding late on against Seacoast United Phantoms.
The U’s were utterly dominant in the opening hour, creating a host of chances at Portsmouth High School.
Tony Capaldi’s deflected free kick was the only effort to beat goalkeeper Colin O’Donnell, who was in inspired form.
But the Phantoms came back into the game in the final 20 minutes and substitute Dylan George pounced on a mistake from Jake Wright to earn a draw.
Alfie Potter returned to the starting line-up, taking Deane Smalley’s place in the only change from Tuesday’s 2-1 win against Seacoast United Mariners.
As in their opening game on tour, the U’s controlled the opening 45 minutes and goalkeeper Ryan Clarke did not have a save to make.
It took the visitors seven minutes to create the first clear opening, when James Constable blasted just over from Jake Forster-Caskey’s lay-off.
Potter was a real threat and his run on 14 minutes paved the way for the opening goal. The winger was brought down a yard outside the penalty area and from the set piece Capaldi found the back of the net via a Phantoms player.
The remainder of the half consisted of a duel between Constable and O’Donnell.
The U’s striker had several clear chances to open his pre-season account, but was thwarted each time by the impressive stopper.
O’Donnell’s best save came on 20 minutes, when he got down to his left at full stretch to keep out a firm header. The rebound fell kindly to Constable, who ballooned over the crossbar with the net gaping.
Three more opportunities came and went, with the goalkeeper coming up with a hat-trick of blocks to keep his side in the game at the break.
O’Donnell continued to impress after the break, getting down well to smother a chance for Rigg at the end of a flowing move.
At the other end U’s goalkeeper Ryan Clarke had to wait until the 58th minute for his first meaningful action. There were no problems with his concentration as he jumped to tip a dipping volley from Scott Rowling over the crossbar.
With an hour gone the U’s switched from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 with the introduction of Tom Craddock and Deane Smalley. Constable and Potter made way.
As in Tuesday’s game against the Mariners, the U’s lost some of their momentum in the final 20 minutes.
The Phantoms came into the game and drew level 13 minutes from time. It took an error from Wright, who misjudged a through ball, allowing George to run through and beat Clarke.
United pushed forward in search of a late winner, but they were kept out by some last-ditch defending.
Tony Capaldi saw a header blocked, before Simon Heslop and Sean Rigg had powerful shots cleared off the line by centre back James Goodwin in the space of a matter of seconds.
The Phantoms came close to nicking a winner in stoppage time when Clarke handled outside the area. The goalkeeper, who was not carded, made amends by parrying Brad Hilton’s set piece in the final action of the game.
United’s third and final game of the tour is on Monday, against the Jim Dedeus XI.
Oxford: Clarke, Batt, Wright, Raynes, Capaldi, Heslop, Cox, Forster-Caskey, Potter (Smalley 61), Constable (Craddock 61), Rigg
Unused subs: Brown, Harris, Tafazoli, Evans
Phantoms: O’Donnell, Goodwin, Dunn, Barima (Kabala 67), Rowling, Thomas, Hilton, Palumbo (George 63), McLarney (Misiri 77), Dubois, Brewster (Pierrot 84)
Unused subs: Doublette, Turner, Djessouho, Delano
Referee: Boris Senic