OXFORD CITY 0 WORCESTER CITY 0
WORCESTER City failed to make the most of a man advantage at Marsh Lane as they were forced to settle for a point against Oxford City tonight.
The visitors struggled to get going for long periods of the Conference North match but came alive after Alesandro-Adrian Santiago was shown a straight red card for hacking down Daniel Nti 17 minutes from time.
From then, the Blue and Whites piled forward and almost won it when Daniel Udoh’s shot was deflected into the side-netting but Oxford, who had the game’s best openings, held out.
It means Worcester, managed by John Snape with Carl Heeley struggling with illness and assistant Matt Gardiner away through work, are still looking for their first win of the new season following Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Stalybridge Celtic.
Nti had an effort smothered by home keeper Mark Scott in the early exchanges, while Adi Yussuf blazed well wide of Nathan Vaughan’s goal at the other end.
The first-half took a while to get going and, when it did, it was the hosts who carved out the better openings.
Oxford should have taken the lead in the 25th minute but Felipe Barcelos managed to get underneath the ball in the area following a cross from the left.
Barcelos was the hosts’ main threat down the right and he almost fashioned an opener soon after.
Turning his marker on the edge of the box, Barcelos drove an effort at Vaughan, who could only parry and then smother Yussuf’s rebound.
The same pair combined a minute before the break with Barcelos cutting the ball across goal for Yussuf but the latter’s shot was cleared off the line by George Williams.
Worcester’s main outlet was long balls to Mike Symons, returning to the club he left in the summer.
Although he won the majority of the aerial battles for the visitors, there was seldom a green shirt in the vicinity to take advantage.
The striker did have the ball in the net on the half-hour mark, converting Nti’s cut-back, but the offside flag halted the visitors’ celebrations.
Apart from that, City, for whom Jacob Rowe came in for the ill Wayne Thomas at the back, struggled to trouble Scott’s goal during a disappointing first period.
Jose Lapoujade headed over Vaughan’s goal and Santiago did likewise as the hosts came out stronger after the break.
Despite being second-best until well past the hour, City were almost gifted a goal when Ben Brown slipped to let in Symons.
However, the striker’s first touch was heavy, which gave keeper Scott time to beat him to the ball and clear.
Worcester grew in confidence and their cause was aided in the 73rd minute by a straight red for Santiago, who hacked down Nti after the striker got the better of the defender.
It was Oxford’s second red card in as many games after captain Darren Mullins was sent off against Hyde at the weekend.
Oxford went on to win that match but, with the man advantage, it was Worcester who began to turn the screw tonight and press deeper into the hosts’ half.
Substitute Udoh was introduced as the visitors tried to exploit gaps in the Oxford defence.
Udoh thought he had scored deep into injury-time but his shot was deflected into the side-netting and the resulting corner flashed across goal.
City: Vaughan 7, Williams 8*, Weir 7, Hutchison 8, Rowe 8, Deeney 7, Nti 6, Gater 6, Symons 7, Jackman 6 (Udoh 84), Wright 6 (Nelson-Addy 63). Subs not used: Dunkley, Gudger, Veiga.