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Oxford match report
28 December 2014 17:54 Post ID: #71046
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From 1-0 up against Oxford and cruising the game changed for Argyle in the 35th minute when Aaron Bentley saw red for a horror challenge allowing Oxford to fight back and grab a 2-1 win.

It was a moment of madness from Bentley that cost Argyle the win. The ball was near the touchline when he went flying in and the ref quite rightly waved the red card, it was an awful tackle. Hopefully Bentley will learn from this and come back a stronger player.

It looked like we had weathered the storm when Oxford scored two soft goals, the first was a free kick into the area that was headed down, Luke McCormick failed to deal with it and the ball bounced in. For the winning goal Ollie Norburn lost possession and Oxford raced away to score, again I thought McCormick could have done better.

There were long queues outside of the stadium as the game kicked off before finally the large exit doors were opened to let ticket holders into the game, tickets were checked but not counted.

The game had a flat feel to it, the only excitement was the running of Alessandra who beat the offside trap on several occasions. It was from one of these runs that we grabbed the lead. A fantastic ball from Norburn sent Lewis Alessandra away, he rounded the keeper and from a tight angle slotted into an empty net.

Soon after Alessandra nearly repeated the trick but his shot was cleared.
Apart from a header that McCormick saved Oxford offered nothing and looked a poor team.

With Argyle cruising and looking for the second goal Bentley jumped into a two footed challenge when there was absolutely no need. The ref instantly showed the red card and players from both sides sympathised with the distraught youngster, McCormick came racing out of his goal to console him.
It was a game changer.

We kept Oxford out until half time and regrouped.

For the second half the three midfielders sat deep leaving Reuben Reid and Alessandra upfront to create any attacks on their own. It worked a treat for a long time, Oxford didn't have a clue on how to break us down.
Lee Cox dominated the midfield, he was immense, Reuben ran at the defenders and caused problems but should have passed on a couple of occasions and eventually "ran into traffic".

Oxford were given a lifeline when a free kick wasn't defended and the ball bobbled past a bemused McCormick.
From then on the game changed, Oxford had their tails up and the win that we were holding onto had gone.

Carl McHugh had a shot well saved before Oxford took an undeserved lead. Norburn lost the ball just inside the halfway line and Oxford raced away and shot past a stranded McCormick to make it 2-1.

Surprisingly there were no subs from manager John Sheridan so the players who played on a heavy pitch just two days previously at Newport and played with 10 men from the 34th minute today had to carry on and complete the game.
They tried but it was just too much and the game was lost.

There's no getting away with it, Bentley's challenge cost us the win, we were never in any trouble up until that point.
The better team lost, if we had 11 players we would have easily beaten a poor Oxford team.

McCormick didn't have one of his better days, he should have done better for the first goal but he did make one fantastic save when McHugh slid in to stop a cross.
For obvious reasons we didn't see a lot of Kelvin Mellor and Andy Kellett getting forward, Reuben looked strong, he just needed to pass to players in better positions.
Alessandra was our best striker today, full of running and could have scored at least two goals.

Cox ran the midfield despite playing against a team with more players, Norburn passed and tackled well but gave the ball away for the winning goal.

You have to feel sorry for the players, they held out for so long and just needed the second goal as a cushion. Heads dropped when Oxford scored the first goal, the win was something the players could cling on to.
It's now two defeats on the bounce and yet we still cling onto a play-off place so it's not all doom and gloom.

McCormick 5, O'Connor 7, McHugh 7, Bentley 2, Mellor 6, Kellett 6, Cox 8, Norburn 7, B Reid 6, Alessandra 7, R Reid 7.
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