It was not pretty, but the hard-earned and well-deserved point from the stalemate at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday was welcome for an injury ravaged Stevenage side. For the most part Stevenage were comfortable although they yielded the majority of possession to the home side in an untidy encounter.
With the side bereft of central midfield options manager Graham Westley persisted with the tactic employed at Bury in midweek with Ronnie Henry occupying the midfield holding role. Chris Day made his first league appearance of the season deputising for the injured Sam Beasant and in the only other change Cameron Lancaster came in for on-loan midfielder, Tom Conlon.
The first half was characterised by misplaced passes, mishit shots and a general lack of flair. Of the few chances the home side mustered the most. Day saved well low down from Danny Hylton and the striker had another effort that deflected wide of the post with the goalkeeper wrong-footed.
In reply the best that Boro could muster was an effort from Michael Richens that flew high and wide into the car park behind the goal. The growing sense of frustration was only heightened in the half’s dying moments when Boro’s already lengthy injury list was added to when Adam Marriott was withdrawn with a hamstring injury.
In truth the second half hardly raised the entertainment level. Hylton wasted the best chance of the game just before the hour mark blasting over from eight yards after comprehensively beating Bira Dembele.
Injury woes continued to blight the afternoon’s proceedings with Chris Whelpdale limping from the fray midway through the second period, but that did herald one of the afternoon’s high points with the return of Dean Parrett after a six month absence. He almost marked his return with the opening strike after a great run but his goal bound effort struck an Oxford defender.
Hylton, who had been the chief protagonist all afternoon spurned a couple of late chances to snatch all three points for Oxford. First firing wide after the ball fell to him from a corner and then being thwarted by day in a one on one duel.
STEVENAGE (4-4-2) Day – Richens, Wells, Charles, Dembele – Beardsley, Henry, Lee, Whelpdale (Sub: Parrett, 65min) – Marriott Sub: Calcut, 44), Lancaster (Sub: Pett, 46). Substitutes not used: Reading, Ashton, Parrett, Gorman, Conlon
OXFORD: (4-2-3-1) Long – Riley, Mullins, Wright, Newy – Ruffels, Collins – Hylton, Howard (Sub: Brown, 81), O’Dowda – Barnett. Substitutes not used: Crocombe, Raynes, Rose, , Morris, Potter, Jakubiak