Appleton angry at below-par Yellows
OXFORD United are in the draw for the third round – but only by the skin of their teeth, and Michael Appleton pulled no punches in his assessment of the U’s poor showing.
He had endured a nerve-jangling evening as his side laboured to a scoreless draw against a Macclesfield side itching to claim another League One scalp, having won at Walsall in the first round.
And although they needed a smart save by Simon Eastwood to deny Macclesfield’s Paul Lewis and Jack Mackreth hit the post in a late siege by the Silkmen, Oxford boss Appleton will be relieved to have a chance to make amends in a replay.
“I think of a few of our younger players were a little bit shell-shocked at half time because of the spirit and the quality at times that Macclesfield showed in the first half,” he said. “They got after us early doors and made it very, very difficult.
“There’s a lot of quality in the National League but don’t get me wrong, we were very, very, very, poor.
“I am not stupid enough to think any different. I would like to see us play better in the replay.
“And I’ve got to pick a better team in terms of the right personnel.”
Spurred on by the TV cameras at an unusually buoyant and bulging Moss Rose, Macclesfield had dominated the first half but wayward finishing – and goalkeeper Eastwood’s save from his own defender Chey Dunkley – denied them a lead at half-time.
Oxford improved after the interval and Dunkley crashed a header against the woodwork, while Craig Ross turned Tyler Roberts’ shot to safety.
But it was the nonleague side making all the running.
Oxford’s name will be in the velvet bag though, and midfielder Alex MacDonald summed up the relief in the U’s camp.
“We know it wasn’t good enough,” he said.
“Playing as badly as we did, we have got ourselves into the third round draw, so overall it is a relief. “We were second best all over the park, but the main thing is we have an opportunity to put it right when they come to our place.”
And Macclesfield boss John Askey knows their opponents will come out with all guns blazing in the replay.
“It will be very difficult,” he said.
“Obviously they’ll be a different proposition at home and they’ll go away thinking they’ve got out of jail a little bit and trying to prove a point.
“Hopefully we can match them and then you never know.”