Oxford came for a draw, stifling Celtic's play across the park, and only woke up after Celtic had scored, equalising from a corner, and breaking Celtic hearts.
With Danny East out with viral meningitis, Jack Cookson got his first start and had very little to do for most of the match, but still earned his crust with a fine double save late on. But the lion's share of the play was for Celtic, with Oxford content to hold us at bay as long as possible. What chances there were in the first half were all Celtic's, Joel Bembo-Leta heading a corner wide, and Ryan Croasdale's swerving shot from the edge of the box superbly saved by Matt Bulman in the visitor's goals. Liam Dickinson's effort was smothered, and Croasdale and McConville both went close as the half ran out.
The second half was more of the same, Sean McConville's cracking effort tipped away by Bulman, and Joel Logan seeing his effort caught at the second attempt. Dickinson's strength gave him the time to turn and fire into the side netting, as Celtic tried in vain to break through the stalwart defending.
Something had to give eventually under such sustained pressure, and it came with ten minutes left, Paul Ennis latching onto Dickinson's flicked header, and drilling the ball low into the bottom corner beyond the reach of Bulman.
That goal saw Oxford abandon their tactics and go all out for an equaliser, and Celtic's nervousness showed through, allowing Tom Winters to get behind the defence and fire in low, which Cookson did really well to get down and parry, but then do even better when Mike Symons latched onto the loose ball and send it back in towards goal, only to be thwarted by a great save from Cookson, tipping the ball out for a corner.
Sadly the switch off for Celtic continued, and Darren Pond met the corner completely unchallenged and thumped his header into the back of the net.
With only five minutes left, and Oxford back into defending mode, there was only one more chance, and it fell to Ennis, but his shot lacked the bottom corner precision of his goal, and Bulman saved to give Oxford the points and pole position in staying in the division for next season. Things are looking desperate now for the Blues!
|4||Pook, Michael||> 63|
|7||McEachran, Zac||> 71|
|11||Solomon-Otabor, Viv||> 59|
|15||Wilmott, Chris||< 71|
|16||Winters, Tom||< 59|
|17||Ballard, Andy||< 63|