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Match Reports

REPORT: Oxford United 1 Stanley 2

Nottingham scores the winner as Reds

5 April 2021

Michael Nottingham rifled home a 70th minute winner to get Accrington Stanley back to winning ways on their travels at Oxford United.

The Reds hadn’t won away since 17th February and suffered four losses and one draw in that run.

But in a game where Stanley were back to their attacking best, they scored a ‘goal’ which didn’t count before Paul Smyth gave them the lead.

Oxford came back before defender Nottingham blasted home 20 minutes from time as Stanley moved up to 11th – five points off the Play-Off places and above United.

John Coleman chose the same starting XI which drew 0-0 with Burton on Saturday and they started at a blistering pace, putting the pressure on the Oxford defence immediately.

Dion Charles raced forward but couldn’t carve out a chance; Matt Butcher fired at the keeper while a Joe Maguire ball to the far post just couldn’t be controlled by Colby Bishop.

Oxford’s first chance came on 11 minutes when James Henry fired just wide while, at the other end, in a quick counter-attack, Smyth forced a save at the near post as it continued to be all Stanley.

There was controversy on 15 minutes when a corner was headed down by Harvey Rodgers, Charles touched it on and the ball went over the line but Oxford keeper Jack Stevens scrambled back to hook it out – and staggeringly no goal was given by referee Ollie Yates with Charles denied a 19th of the season.

However, Smyth made sure the next attack counted on 16 minutes when Butcher flicked the ball on for Smyth and he rifled the ball home from 18 yards for a superb goal.

Stanley were dominating the chances, Bishop hooking wide and Butcher forcing another save out of Stevens.

Against the run of play, Oxford equalised on 25 minutes when a long ball forward found Matty Taylor who laid it into the path of Elliot Lee in the area and he side-footed the ball home.

Stanley continued to press and came close to a second when Sean McConville’s free kick on 28 minutes was pushed onto the post by Stevens and the keeper managed to recover to keep out a Charles follow-up.

Butcher had another go from distance and McConville fired narrowly wide while, towards the end of the half, Oxford pressed and Taylor’s strike was just wide in injury-time.

At the break, the home side had had one shot on target and scored; Stanley had 14 shots, eight testing the keeper.

The Reds started the second half well, Charles cutting into the area and his ball in skimming the head of Bishop while they appealed for a penalty for handball with their pleas waved away.

A Bishop header was straight into the arms of the Oxford keeper and Stanley had a great chance on the hour mark when, on a quick counter-attack, Smyth played Charles in. The striker just had the keeper to beat and decided to take the ball around Stevens but he made the angle too tight and Olamide Shodipo got back to block the strike.

The ball went straight down the other end and Oxford’s Lee raced free but Toby Savin denied him superbly at the near post.

The Reds keeper was in the action again, superbly pushing away a Shopido shot on the turn as Oxford enjoyed a spell of pressure.

Stanley retook the lead on 70 minutes when a long free kick into the area wasn’t cleared and it fell to Nottingham who turned and thundered the ball home for his third goal of the season.

Oxford went straight on the attack and Savin had to save in a goalmouth scramble while Brandon Barker whisked a shot just wide with ten minutes to go.

Karl Robinson’s men made it a nervy ending but Stanley held on, a superb performance deserving the victory.


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