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Oxford Utd 2, Stevenage Borough 1 (22/08)
A goal in each half from Alfie Potter and Adam Murray saw off previously unbeaten Stevenage and kept Oxford United on top of the table.
In most of their previous games, it has been United's strikers who have struck the goals and taken the accolades, but this time it was two midfielders who chipped in with two cracking volleys.
Potter struck on 21 minutes, and Murray sealed the three points 18 minutes from time.
Former U's striker Yemi Odubade came on as a sub for Borough in the second half, and pulled a goal back in the 90th minute, but Oxford still finished convincing winners.
Unlike their previous two home games this season, United were forced to attack towards the home fans in the first half.
But they were soon on the ascendancy in what became a rough-and-tumble first half.
Stevenage were very physical, and a constant battle between Borough centre back Jon ashton, the former U's player, and James Constable, soon developed.
In the 16th minute there was a massive roar from the crowd as United's striker was knocked over in the penalty area by Ashton with the ball 40 yards away.
The ref clearly didn't see what had happened, and it became apparent that his assistant hadn't either, because after consulting him, the ref then brandished the yellow card to both players, as Oxford fans bellowed "You Don't Know Whay You're Doing".
By then Oxford had already had to make a change at the back.
When Joel Byrom deflected a shot goalwards in the fifth minute, Ryan Clarke parried and Rhys Day was fouled as he cleared.
Day tried to continue, but on eight minutes, United's management chose to take him off, and Luke Foster took over.
Constable continued to be the focus of attention and a clash of heads between him and Scott Laird left the Stevenage playerlying prone on the ground, with his teammates trying to get the striker sent off for use of an elbow. But the ref would have none of it.
United were unable to pass the ball around, as they had against Chester, with Stevenage much more combative, but they too closed down well at every opportunity, their forwards tight on defenders when they tried to clear and Bulman breaking down a lot in midfield.
And then, when they got their first real opportunity, Potter fired United into a 21st-minute lead.
Constable headed Bulman's left-wing cross back across the face of the goal and Potter controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed home from eight yards.
Kevin Sandwith also went close with a free-kick around Stevenage's defensive wall, keeper Ashley Bayes making a good save because the shot bounced just in front of him.
Just befoire the break, Chris Wilder's men had another decent opportunity to score, but this time Potter was wildly off target.
Constable did brilliantly to charge down a clearance by Bayes, and the ball ballooned across the area.
In Potter's defence, it was still spinning as he reached it, but the shot still wasn't a good one.
In injury time, Foster managed to control a free-kick swung over from the right by Murray, but fired over.
Stevenage came out strongly at the start of the second half and Mitchell Cole shot over after a ball over the top caught out the otherwise excellent Damian Batt.
Constable was brought down by Mark Roberts' professional foul as he sprinted towards goal, but Roberts got away with just a booking, saved by having two other teammates nearby.
Ashton had an even luckier escape when he clearly fouled Murray after United's skipper had played the ball out to Matt Green, but the ref ignored it, just as he did, unbelievably, with a clear foul on a Stevenage player just outside the box nine minutes from the end.
Clarke made a brave save from Chris Beardsley, but could do nothing about a Joel Byrom drive, which came back off the bar.
Wilder must have thought about taking Constable off, in case he was going to get sent off, but kept him on.
Oxford Utd: Clarke; Batt, Day (Foster 8), Creighton, Sandwith; Bulman, Murray, Clist: Potter (Rhodes 83), Constable, Green. Subs not used: Turley, Chapman, Midson.
Ref: Andrew Bennett (Devon).
Att: 5,775 (224 from Stevenage).
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