Resilience was the key as 10 man Oxford United saw out a 1-0 win over Newport County. Newport entered the game on the back of a 7 game unbeaten run whilst Oxford, with 1 loss and 1 win in 7, looked to move out of the relegation zone. The game started off with both sides squandering multiple golden chances. The first fell to Tyrone Barnett. The U’s man found himself one-on-one with Joe Day after fantastic work from Danny Rose and Brian Howard. Barnett beat Day but saw his effort flash a foot wide of the post. It was a chance he really should have taken and this almost cost Oxford as just a few minutes later, Joe Pigott burst through with a clear sight of goal and forced a smart but comfortable save from the returning Ryan Clarke. The remainder of the half was largely dominated by Oxford. This saw chances squandered by Michael Raynes who duly should have scored as he found himself on the end of a Brian Howard set piece but headed straight into the hands of Day. Also a chance for U’s top-scorer Danny Hylton, who saw his outstretched effort sail into the car park from 6 yards out. However, these warning shots were eventually turned into product on the 40 minute mark. Michael Collins saw his cross-cum-shot flash across the face of goal, beating the entire Newport defence and the stranded Joe Day who helplessly saw the ball bounce into the top corner.

Oxford United began the second half attacking towards the home fans and set off at the same intensity as they had left off at the end of the first. But home spirits were drowned as Tyrone Barnett picked up a second yellow for a somewhat innocuous challenge which bizarrely saw him heading for the tunnel. This gave a lifeline to the Newport County men and they relished it with the 10 men of Oxford. The attacks came in waves and Newport began to threaten. Joe Pigott successfully rounded Clarke, clipped the ball over the head of Raynes but saw his effort land on the roof of the net. U’s man Brian Howard talked about showing ruthlessness and resilience before the game and it was needed now more than ever. Chance after chance was squandered by Newport and Oxford showed the ruthlessness that was called for. They were strong and proficient in the air which frustrated Newport. Byrne saw his long range effort clip off of the bar before Zebroski was bundled over in the box. A penalty looked imminent but the referee waved it away and Oxford prevailed victorious. Newport will feel as if it was three points dropped on Saturday and Oxford will be delighted to get their second win of the season and to move out of the precarious position inside the relegation zone that they were in.

Oxford United

 Ryan Clarke – Clarke returned to a standing ovation after the Oxford player of the year endured a frustrating spell on the sidelines following an injury sustained during pre-season. Clarke was commanding and brave, making two important saves and deservedly keeping a clean sheet. Very strong return performance. 8.0
 Joe Riley – Riley has shown consistency this season and he didn’t fail to impress. He was sharp going forward and showed defensive solidity when needed. Good performance. 8.0
 Michael Raynes – Raynes started for the first time this season following Jake Wright tweaking his medial ligaments midweek and he replaced extremely well. He was composed and proved a big aerial threat as he almost bagged himself a headed goal. His tall presence was also extremely proficient defensively as the barrage of Newport attacks frequently threatened, but were consequently dealt with. 8.5
 Johnny Mullins – The captains armband was given to Mullins in the absence of Wright and he handed the responsibility very well. Mullins was inspiring when United went down to 10 and he had one of his strongest performances of the season. 8.5
 Tom Newey – Newey looks a completely different player under Appleton’s reign and he has shaken off the early criticism. He now holds his own defensively and looks good going forward, linking up well with O’Dowda. 7.5
 Michael Collins – Collins returned to the side after coming off injured at Luton last week and as usual was consistent, composed and pivotal in midfield. 8.0
 Danny Rose – Rose was energetic, creative and lively. He linked up well with the forwards and worked incredibly hard defensively to top a man of the match performance. 9.0
 Danny Hylton – Hylton has had a quiet few games and failed to add to his seven goals this season. This game saw no change but he had an overall good performance and Hylton put in marvellous effort and showed incredible work-ethic on Saturday afternoon.  7.0
 Brian Howard – Howard increased the ferocity of the United attack in the final third. At times he was too lightweight on the ball but his good vision proved vital for Oxford going forward. 8.0
 Callum O’Dowda – O’Dowda has come into his own this season but he had a relatively quiet game. He was muscled off the ball frequently and didn’t seem to find the space and freedom down the wings where thrives. He was still lively however and put in a few good crosses and when he was called for defensively the youngster stepped up to the plate. 7.0
 Tyrone Barnett – Barnett was one of United’s less impressive players on Saturday. He missed a glorious chance which was put on a plate following fantastic midfield work and his frustration escalated which capitulated in the target man being sent off. One to forget for Barnett 6.0

Substitutions

 Carlton Morris – Took over Barnett’s role after the sending off and did what was asked. The loanee’s hold up play was good and due to Oxford’s defensive set up during h’s time on the pitch it was difficult for him to be involved in the game 6.5
 Josh Ruffels – His ball retention was good and his work rate too. He helped close down well to eradicate any real threat from Newport. 7.0
 Junior Brown – Replaced O’Dowda who picked up a knock and almost adapted a full-back role due to United’s desperation to claim all three points. He played well and looked lively going forward as well. 7.0

 

Newport County

 Joe Day – Made a number of very good saves to prevent Oxford. He will be disappointed with the goal he conceded as it could have been prevented by the defence and was quite a soft goal to concede 7.0
 Scott Tancock – The Swansea loanee had a very good game. He held a good line with the rest of the back three and contained the likes of Barnett and O’Dowda well. 7.5
 Darren Jones – Jones was definitely not a fan favourite with the home fans after numerous offences but overall, Jones had a solid game. 7.0
 Ismail Yakubu – The powerful centre half kept Hylton quiet down the left flank and he had an impressive game. He perhaps should have done better defending the goal but overall a solid performance 7.0
 Mark Byrne – Byrne was relatively quiet in the midfield until Barnett was sent off. He then found the freedom he desired and began a number very positive drives down the right flank. 7.0
 Robbie Willmott – Willmott struggled in midfield on Saturday as he was pressured constantly. His retention rate was fairly poor and was often caught in posession 6.0
 Adam Chapman – The ex Oxford midfielder brought composure and creativity into the midfield. A number of smart and creative passes almost undid the Oxford United defence and he had an impressive 70 minutes. 8.0
 Yan Klukowski – Klukowski brought liveliness into the midfield and he was effective in a few quick and spontaneous counter attacks. 7.5
 Andy Sandell – The Newport County captain was diverse and full of energy. He broke up play well but could not find the inspiration to find the all important equaliser Newport perhaps should have deserved. 7.5
 Joe Pigott – Pigott squandered two potentially game changing chances and it was his lack of clinicalism that hindered his team 6.0
 Aaron O’Connor – O’Connor was lively and sharp and looked the biggest threat to Oxford’s defence. However he was more  the provider rather than the end product and failed to cause too much trouble. Overall he had a very solid game and impressed 8.0

Substitutions

 Chris Zebroski – Another ex Oxford player to feature and he had a very valid penalty claim in the dying embers of the game. However he failed to make a substantial impact 6.0
 Danny Crow – Crow could not muster a strong enough influence and during the time he was on the pitch, he did not get on the ball enough as he perhaps should have. 6.0
 James Loveridge – Loveridge replaced Chapman well but was not able to produce any clear opportunities for his side 6.0

Man of the Match

Danny Rose – Rose was metronomic, pivotal and influential in Oxford’s second win of the season and proved a real asset to them. His work-rate was unmatched and he was effective both going forward and defending. 9.0

Highlights

*All images belong to Sky Sports


About Author

Aspiring sports journalist from Oxford. Also a lifelong supporter and season ticket holder of Oxford United. My job here is to supply brief match reports and player ratings of Oxford United players and the teams they oppose.