Well, it wasn’t the repeat of the 7-0 victory in 1998!
A 1-1 draw with Oxford United halted our winning momentum but carried on our unbeaten run in the league. Karl Robinson’s men were on top from the very start and we were at a pace below them in the first half, but stepped up the tempo in the second 45 minutes.
Before the whistle was blown at three o’clock many supporters were on the fence, debating whether it would be an easy game or a tricky encounter. If you looked at it from the table perspective, we should have came out on top with Oxford being third from bottom. They would have been desperate to take all three points from the game, which would probably end up as their win of the season against a side that two seasons ago was in the Premier League facing the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.
We were not on the ball from the first minute and the referee, Mark Heywood, lost control of the game when he booked Chris Maguire for his collision with Cameron Norman. He gave 36 free-kicks in the full 90 minutes plus whatever was added on at the end of each halves. Two minutes later, he then booked Lee Cattermole for a tackle on Shandon Baptiste just outside the penalty area, the set piece that inevitably lead to their opening goal. McLaughlin almost kept it out but it had too much curl on the ball to keep it out of his net.
Three minutes later, the man in the middle picked the red card out of his pocket for Max Power, a dismissal, which in my opinion was not a red, but just a yellow. It was a foul that stopped the play and them from counter-attacking against our defence, yes, but not as cynical as the referee deemed it to be for a red card.
Also, Chris Maguire was maybe lucky not to have been sent off for a tackle near the by-line next to the assistant after his earlier yellow card. If he had been given one more chance to go in for a bad tackle, then we would have probably been down to nine men. This was probably why Jack Ross replaced him with goal scorer Charlie Wyke at half time.
In the second half, we should have won it after Wyke flicked home in the 52nd minute with both Lee Cattermole, Jack Baldwin and Josh Maja missing vital chances. Meanwhile, if it wasn’t for a good decision by the linesman, we would have lost our point with Jon McLaughlin spilling a shot, which was then diverted by an Oxford attacker, but the assistant referee flagged for an offside.
We should have came away with all three points, but we didn’t lose and we picked up another point and continued our unbeaten run in the league.
We now have another two matches at the Stadium of Light this week, with a Checkatrade Trophy match with Stoke City u21’s and a League One game against Joey Barton’s Fleetwood, so hopefully by this time next week, we are have an extra three points on the board and another confidence boost in beating Stoke u21’s.