REPORT: OXFORD UNITED 0, PETERBOROUGH UNITED 0: Goalkeeper brings Posh winning streak to an end
Posh striker Jonson Clarke-Harris was denied an eighth successive scoring game by a superb 95th-minute save from Oxford goalkeeper Jack Stevens.
Clarke-Harris met Joe Ward’s left-wing corner at the near post and flicked goalwards from six yards, but Stevens showed terrific reactions to beat the ball away.
Stevens had already been named Oxford’s man-of-the-match and Posh will be disappointed not to have have beaten him as they created much the clearer chances throughout the game. The goalless draw was no disaster though as Posh arguably strengthened their position at the top following Lincoln City’s home defeat, despite dropping their first points in seven matches.
There was a blow for Posh before kick-off as star midfielder Jack Taylor wasn’t named in the matchday squad. Taylor, who picked up a hamstring injury at this time last season, was replaced by Ethan Hamilton with Louis Reed returning to the matchday squad as a substitute.
Hamilton was excellent though. He kept possession well, tackled strongly and delivered a couple of outstanding through balls.
Oxford were also missing a couple of key players in James Henry and Sam Winnall, and they lost the influential Elliot Lee before half-time.
Posh started well and after Sammie Szmodics had seen a left-foot shot easily saved in the fifth minute, Ward had a great chance to get his side in front under 60 seconds later.
Clarke-Harris created the chance with a perfectly timed pass through the centre of defence, but Stevens was out quickly to smother Ward’s shot.
Siriki Dembele was next to find space and shoot, but again the save was simple.
The game then settled into a pattern of plenty of Oxford possession, but with Posh looking the likeliest to score. Posh ‘keeper Christy Pym made no saves in the first half as his teammates defended well from Brandon Barker’s occasional excursions around the outside of Dan Butler.
Posh suffered from poor decison-making with Dembele the main offender. After ignoring a simple pass to the unmarked Ward and failing to find Szmodics with a far more difficult pass, he wriggled to the byline, but instead of pulling back to better placed teammates he tried to score from a tight angle and Stevens saved again.
Stevens was soon scrambling across his goalline to keep out a fine Clarke-Harris overhead kick.
Posh seemed happy to let Oxford advance with little pressure before engaging them close to Pym’s penalty area. They almost paid a big price when Cameron Branagan was teed up on the edge of the area, but he fired over.
Posh wanted a penalty when Mark Beevers was tugged to the ground just before the break, but excellent referee Alan Young was unmoved.
Posh took a while to warm-up in the second-half, but almost scored from their first attack in the 51st minute. Dembele’s skill took him into the area and this time he made a good choice with a pass to Ward whose shot was blocked.
Dembele was also the next to threaten after skinning his marker. This time Clarke-Harris was teed up, but he smashed his 16-yard shot over the bar, admittedly under heavy pressure.
Dembele then missed a great chance to get Posh in front in the 63rd minute after superb play from Hamilton. The midfielder’s pass sent the little winger clear, but he pushed it too far past Stevens and could only strike the outside of the post from a tough angle.
Pym was then called into action for the first time to beat away a Taylor shot.
The game really opened up the last quarter and Beevers made a terrific block to take the pace off a Barker shot.
Frankie Kent reached a Ward free kick first, but couldn’t keep his header on target. Clarke-Harris smacked a 25 yard free-kick just wide of a post.
Posh kept pushing and almost pinched all three points at the death.
Posh: Christy Pym, Dan Butler, Frankie Kent, Nathan Thompson, Mark Beevers, Joe Ward, Ethan Hamilton, Reece Brown (sub Louis Reed, 75 mins), Siriki Dembele, Sammie Szmodics (sub Mo Eisa 90 + 4 mins), Jonson Clarke-Harris
Unused substitutes: Dan Gyollai,Harrison Burrows, Idris Kanu, Niall Mason, Ricky-Jade Jones.
Oxford: Jack Stevens, Josh Ruffels, Elliott Moore, Rob Atkinson, Sam Long (sub Jamie Hanson, 57 mins), Alex Gorrin, Cameron Brannagan, Brandon Barker (sub Olamide Shadipo, 82 mins), Elliot Lee (sub Anthony Forde, 38 mins), Mark Sykes, Matty Taylor (sub Dan Agyei, 82 mins).
Unused substitutes: Simon Eastwood, Joe Grayson, Liam Kelly.
Cautions: Oxford - Gorrin (deliberate handball), Moore (foul).
Referee: Alan Young 9.