TANNER’S SPANNER IN THE WORKS
Sub ends superb winning record
MANAGER Michael Appleton claimed his side were robbed as Craig Tanner came off the bench to ruin Oxford’s hopes of creating history.
The U’s looked poised to win six straight away games – and 12 on the road in a season – for the first time in the club’s history.
Peter Hartley put through his own net to hand Oxford the lead only for Curtis Nelson to head the hosts level three minutes later.
Kemar Roofe bagged his 21st goal of the season to put Oxford back on course to set a new milestone.
But Tanner had other ideas and his 75th-minute headed ensured the spoils were shared in the battle of the promotion hopefuls.
Appleton said: “We are extremely unfortunate not to have won that game. We knew we would have broken the record and we had enough chances to have won three or four games, let alone one.
“But we have showed what a good side we are and we need to go on another run now.
“We just let ourselves down with some sloppy defending from a couple of set-pieces.
“There was a good crowd, good atmosphere and considering the conditions both sides dealt with it quite well.
“This was a great advert for League Two football and I hope both teams go on and get promotion.”
Plymouth came flying out of the traps and carved out two good opportunities in the opening ten minutes. Hartley ghosted into the box and hit a shot that was blocked by Danny Hylton for a corner. Jake Jervis swung over the corner and Hartley rose highest with a fierce header that sailed narrowly over the crossbar.
But Oxford took the lead from their first meaningful attack after Hartley put through his own net when he tried to deal with Chris Maguire’s corner.
To their credit shellshocked Plymouth did not let the early blow disrupt their rhythm and Jake Jervis supplied the perfect corner for Nelson to plant a header past Sam Slocombe.
The hosts came close to turning the game on its head after Gregg Wylde outstripped Chey Dunkley and forced Slocombe into two smart saves in quick succession.
But Oxford reclaimed their lead on 35 minutes after seizing on Kelvin Mellor’s mistake.
Jordan Bowery cut in from the left and fed Roofe, who produced a sumptuous finish for his second goal in two games.
Argyle boss Derek Adams was forced into a reshuffle at the break with Tanner coming on for the injured Hartley, while referee James Adcock was replaced by Brett Huxtable after suffering a calf injury.
Argyle started the second half well and were desperately unlucky not to plunder an instant equaliser.
Jervis supplied a sumptuous cross for Reid to rattle the crossbar with a thunderous header and the striker’s rebound was heading in until Kenny blocked on the line.
Plymouth rarely looked like getting back into it until Grahan Carey’s corner was headed home by Tanner.
The visitors could also have nicked in but Slocombe pushed Carey’s freekick over the bar. Moments later Oxford broke and Hylton was left holding his head in his hands as his close-range effort rattled the bar.
Pilgrims boss Derek Adams said: “It was a very good football match to watch with both sides trying to win the game. It was end to end, both sides hit the bar and there were chances for both sides. From my point of view I think a draw was fair.
“All in all I am a very proud manager and I said that to them after the game. They showed their fighting spirit.
“I thought this was a terrific performance by us because Oxford were bang at it, and at full strength.
“From our point of view we were depleted and I think we showed how good a squad we have got.”
TAKE THAT: Craig Tanner scores the equalising goal for Plymouth Argyle.
THAT’S TWO: Oxford’s Kemar Roofe celebrates with Josh Ruffels after scoring the visitor’s second goal
STAR MAN JORDA