Sunday, 7 August 2011

Lewis Grabbs the points for the Millers

Oxford returned home from South Yorkshire with nothing to show for their efforts after debutant Rotherham striker Lewis Grabban scored a second half wonder goal.

Both sides had been installed as promotion favourites ahead of this opening game of the season and it was Oxford who the better of the early stages, James Constable just unable to connect with a cross from the right hand side, Asa Hall hitting the post from a Liam Davis free kick and Michael Duberry scooping the rebound over the bar from 5 yards. Davis and Duberry were 2 of 4 debutants in the U's team, Striker Deane Smalley and fullback turned defensive midfielder Andrew Whing completeing the quadruple. Rotherham, managed by former Oxford boss Andy Scott soon began to dominate the possession statistics without ever looking very dangerous to the United back 4, Duberry and captain Jake Wright marshalling everything that was thrown at them. It was Rotherham however, who were the first side to test the opposing goalkeeper, Ryan Cresswall forcing Clarke into tipping his goalbound header away for a corner. As ever, Oxford were followed by a large number of supporters - 742 making the trip to the Don Valley despite the need for binoculars - and these fans outsung the Rotherham fans for the whole match,  infact the Rotherham faithful seemed quite happy to take the silent approach in supporting their team.
It was a shame for the yellows, that the match was not decided on support. 3 minutes into the second half, Grabban took advantage of some soft tackling to hit a volley with the outside of his foot into the top corner of the Oxford net. That seemed do deflate the Oxford team who up until that moment had looked quite comfortable in the game. A couple of minutes later, Rotherham (but for how much longer?) striker Adam Le Fondre ran through on goal and shot into the side netting. Chris Wilder responded by bringing Alfie Potter on for Josh Payne and Potter's willingness to attack seemed to momentarily inspire his side, Davis hurdled a challenge when perhaps he could have gone down for a penalty and chipped the ball to the back post where Constable hit a shot across the face of goal and Smalley failed to turn the ball into the gaping net in front of him. Anthony Tonkin was sacrificed for JP Pitman, the former Wycombe winger also making his debut for the yellows, Liam Davis dropped into the back 4. With 15 minutes to play, Wilder threw his final card, with Peter Leven replacing Asa Hall. It was to no avail as the U's failed to produce a clear cut chance and Rotherham almost doubled there lead in stoppage time, Grabban forcing Clarke into a good save down to his right. There was still time for Duberry to have his claims for a penalty waved away from referee Mohareb who produced a number of strange decisions throughout.
Oxford move on to Wednesday's Carling Cup game at home to Cardiff City whilst Rotherham focus their attentions on the visit of Sven and his Leicester City side.

Rotherham: Logan, Tonge, Cresswell, Brown, Newey, Schofield (Pringle 84), Taylor, Harrison, Grabban, Le Fondre, Holroyd (Evans 71). Subs not used: Warrington, Marshall, Raynes.

Oxford Utd: Clarke, Batt, Duberry, Wright, Tonkin (Pittman 68), Whing, Hall (Leven 75), Payne (Potter 57), Davis, Smalley, Constable. Subs not used: Brown, Heslop.

Referee: Dean Mohareb (Cheshire).
Attendance: 4484 (742 Oxford)

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