Cheltenham Town 2 (Harrison 8, Gornell 50) Oxford United 2 (Kitson 34, Mullins 57) (From Witney Gazette)
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Cheltenham Town 2 (Harrison 8, Gornell 50) Oxford United 2 (Kitson 34, Mullins 57)
OXFORD United twice came from behind to claim a point against Cheltenham Town to keep their unbeaten start to the season intact.
Johnny Mullins again showed his ability in the opponents' box with a cool finish to earn the point near the hour mark, shortly after Terry Gornell had put the Robins in front for the second time.
Dave Kitson had earlier scored his first goal for the club, cancelling out Byron Harrison's early strike.
Both goals conceded came from mistakes, but the depleted visitors can be satisfied to take something from the game.
Injuries forced Oxford United to make two changes to their starting line-up.
As expected James Constable failed to recover from a foot injury picked up a week earlier, but Jake Wright also missed out following minor surgery to remove an abscess near his groin.
Michael Raynes came in for his first appearance of the season, along with Scott Davies.
The home side went into the game looking for their first league victory of the season at Whaddon Road.
They were the better side early on and took the lead in the eighth minute.
A through ball should have been cut out, but United's defence dithered, allowing Gornell in. His shot was parried by goalkeeper Ryan Clarke, but fell to Harrison, who tapped into the gaping net.
United's defence looked edgy without Wright and Town continued to look dangerous.
Clarke was forced to make another save, this time from Matt Richards, as the visitors battled to stay in the game.
But after a tough opening 20 minutes, gradually they began to have an influence on the game going forward.
Mullins forced Scott Brown into action, with the goalkeeper tipping over the defender's header at a Danny Rose corner.
It was the cue for an encouraging 15 minute spell for the visitors.
Mullins quickly had another sight of goal, but he could not quite get to the bounce of David Hunt's long throw and could only blast a shot wide.
Rose had a free-kick saved by Brown and Asa Hall lashed a shot just over before the U's levelled on 34 minutes.
It was pure route one, with Clarke's long clearance inexplicably left by the vastly experienced Steve Elliott. Kitson gambled on a mistake and the striker gratefully pounced on the chance, beating Brown to the ball to grab the equaliser.
Cheltenham finished the half strongly.
David Noble let fly with a swerving shot which Clarke only dealt with at the second attempt.
The Robins came even closer in first-half stoppage time, but Keith Lowe's header from a corner struck Clarke's left-hand post and bounced clear.
It was only a temporary reprieve for United, who fell behind five minutes after the restart.
Sido Jombati's cross was not dealt with and the ball ricocheted to Harrison. Clarke raced off his line to make a good stop, but just like the first goal it rebounded kindly, this time giving Gornell a simple finish.
The response was swift from United, who were only behind for seven minutes.
Hunt's corner was cleared back to the full back, whose cross picked out Mullins. The defender showed real composure to chest the ball down and steer a shot low into the corner of the net.
It gave both sides half an hour to find a winner.
United brought on Deane Smalley for Davies, pushing Potter out wide.
Cheltenham looked the more dangerous, with the impressive Noble chipping just over Clarke's crossbar.
Ryan Williams replaced Potter, who looked out of sorts, but United only threatened sporadically.
Clarke was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers. Harrison headed one effort straight at the U's stopper, who also did well to keep out a curling shot from Russell Penn.
Town pressed for a winner, but United held on to claim a share of the spoils and extend their unbeaten run to seven games.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Hunt, Raynes, Mullins, Newey, Davies (Smalley 59), Whing, Rose, Hall, Potter (Williams 74), Kitson.
Unused subs: Jalal, Bevans, Marsh, O'Dowda, Ruffels.
Cheltenham: Brown, Lowe, Wilson, Elliott, Jombati, McGlashan, Penn, Noble (Taylor 88), Richards, Harrison, Gornell.
Unused subs: Roberts, Deering, Kotwica, Vincent, Gillespie.
Referee: David Phillips.
Attendance: 3,906 (1,346 visitors).
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