Oxford United were the hosts Accrington Stanley at the Kassam Stadium in a top-of-the-table clash amidst blustery conditions.
Accrington travelled with a depleted squad, after injuries and suspensions rule out a total of five first team players including stand-out performers Matt Crooks (serving his last suspension of two matches) and Josh Windass (hernia).
However Stanley were boosted with the news that Matthew Pearson had made the starting lineup after late concerns on his fitness. Oxford had new injury concerns themselves, with skipper Jake Wright ruled out for at least 10 days with a grade one hamstring tear.
The U’s started the game lively, with Alex MacDonald finding space after a neat turn by Bowery. His effort flashed wide.
Bowery was involved again, winning a freekick 25 yards from goal. Maguire, who has hit the woodwork in his previous two games, curled his effort onto the bar, with Stanley ‘keeper Etheridge well beaten.
The game petered out for a while, but on 29 minutes, a delightful ball from Maguire was dubiously glanced home by Kemar Roofe. The forward reeled away in celebration of his 20th of the season but replays proved inconclusive.
Bowery again was set free and found himself one-on-one with Etheridge. The Stanley ‘keeper stood strong and blocked the Oxford forward’s effort.
Accrington nearly saw themselves back into the game. A floated cross troubled Buchel in the wind, who could only palm the ball into danger. Winger Sean McConville was first to pounce, who drilled a rising effort onto the crossbar. A let off for Michael Appleton’s side.
The first half remained 1-0 to the hosts who were enjoying majority of possession, fashioning a plethora of chances. Accrington’s injury woes were only to worse with Joe Wright being stretchered off at the interval.
Accrington started the second half sublimely. Alex MacDonald was caught in possession and the ball was worked out wide to McConville. He toyed with fullback Jonjoe Kenny before his centre was met by Billy Kee who headed past Benji Buchel 19 seconds into the second half.
Oxford suddenly looked tentative and cautious. Accrington maintained a lengthy spell of pressure but couldn’t muster anything further. The game became a sloppy affair with neither side creating anything nor holding possession.
The swirling winds of Oxfordshire did no justice to the game, making it very difficult for both sides to play.
Brayden Shaw was brought on for the away side and almost made an immediate impact. He was released down the left side and hit a vicious half volley. It was dipping wildly and nestled on the roof of the net.
The dynamics of the game were soon to change as Accrington’s Tom Davies received a second yellow. A third suspension in as many games for Stanley.
But ten-man Accrington were to capitalise. Scott Brown found himself free in the penalty area and drilled home past Buchel to send the 114 away fans into euphoria.
2-1 the final score read in an important game at the top of the table in Sky Bet League Two.