MATCH REPORT: Oxford 1-0 Blackpool
Blackpool were made to pay for missing a string of clear-cut chances as they went down to a frustrating and ultimately undeserved 1-0 defeat at Oxford United.
The Seasiders were the dominant side for the vast majority of the game at the Kassam Stadium but were undone by a late Jon Obika goal, as the home side took home all the points.
Oxford goalkeeper Simon Eastwood claimed the Man of the Match award for the hosts for a superb solo performance, making a string of fine saves.
The clearest chance fell to Sessi D’Almeida at the start of the second half while it was still goalless but the midfielder could only head wide when left unmarked inside the Oxford box.
Blackpool made two changes to their side from the one that won 2-1 at Rochdale on New Year’s Day.
Jay Spearing took the captain’s armband as he replaced Jimmy Ryan, while Sessi D’Almeida came in for on-loan midfielder Callum Cooke.
The first chance of the game came the hosts’ way, although it was an opportunity gifted to them by Gary Bowyer’s side.
Curtis Tilt was caught in possession on the halfway line by Jon Obika, who charged through on goal only to see his attempt saved by the feet of Christtofer Mafoumbi who cleared away for a corner.
Blackpool returned in kind with an ambitious effort from range from Clark Robertson, which brought out a superb fingertip save with a rasping drive from 25 yards out.
Eastwood was again called into action soon afterwards to get down to his right to claim Sean Longstaff’s low effort.
Blackpool continued to frustrate the hosts and almost broke the deadlock just before the half-hour mark through Kelvin Mellor.
The right-back was found at the back post from Longstaff’s cross after the Seasiders had broken from one end of the pitch to the other but Eastwood got down well to save.
Former Blackpool striker Wes Thomas was gifted too much room inside the Blackpool box but he could only turn and fire well over the bar when he was found from a right-wing cross.
The Seasiders’ defending was just as unconvincing just before the half-time break when they failed to clear their lines from a corner, allowing Canice Carroll to get a shot off at goal but fortunately for them it was straight at Mafoumbi.
The half was brought to a close when Ryan Ledson was teed up to strike it from range, but his shot was straight at Mafoumbi who claimed it confidently.
Two huge chances came Blackpool’s way at the start of the second half but both were squandered.
The first came in somewhat bizarre circumstances as Nathan Delfouneso managed to reach his own flick-on before crossing into the six-yard box, where Oxford defender Aaron Martin made a hash of his attempted clearance as D’Almeida bore down on him but the midfielder couldn’t quite force the ball over the line.
D’Almeida then sent a glancing header agonisingly wide of the far post after Solomon-Otabor had found him with a pinpoint cross.
The game began to open up from the hour-mark onwards as both sides exchanged opportunities.
Wes Thomas was played in down the left but he could only shoot wide before Colin Daniel tested the Oxford ‘keeper at the other end of the pitch with a deflected effort.
Simon Eastwood made two superb saves in the space of just a minute to keep his Oxford side level.
He first denied Solomon-Otabor who sent a dipping effort heading towards the top corner before saving from Clark Robertson for a second time from the following corner.
But the Seasiders were made to pay for their missed chances as Oxford went up the other end and scored.
Alex Mowatt came off the bench and made an immediate impact, sending in a superb free kick for Jon Obika to head past Mafoumbi and into the far corner.
Oxford: Eastwood, Tiendalli, Martin, Ledson, Thomas, Payne (Mowatt), Ruffels, Obika, Mousinho (Williamson), Carroll, van Kessel (Henry)
Subs not used: Shearer, Dickie, Fernandez, Napa
Blackpool: Mafoumbi, Mellor, Tilt, Robertson, Turton (Philliskirk), Spearing, D'Almeida (Cooke), Longstaff, Daniel, Solomon-Otabor, Delfouneso (Quigley)
Subs not used: Allsop, Aimson, Anderton, Ryan
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Attendance: 6,775 (441 Blackpool)