Us 0 Ebbsfleet 0

A 0-0 draw against the men from the future and a perfect demonstration as to why the myfootballclub concept is flawed. It really was one for the aficionados of both clubs. Your casual Internet browser is unlikely to be motivated by such a frigid affair.

The game was probably the best opportunity yet to assess where the season is going. Ebbsfleet sit in the middle of the morass of well-organised teams in the division. To beat them would indicate that maybe we could bother the play-off positions after all, a defeat would sound some warning bells. The draw suggests the season is going nowhere.

The performance was better; the team seem to be released from the maw of fear that became a signature in the last weeks of Jim Smith’s reign. The fans, who have helped exacerbate the problem without the objectivity to realise it, were less restless and recognised the efforts and improvements. Rob Duffy’s sending off could well have been stroke of genius; his heroic early return from injury instantly put him in the good books, getting sent off offers an opportunity to complete his convalescence at the FA’s convenience. Despite the angry reaction in the stands, most post-match analysis appears to agree he deserved it.

I missed the incident because I was sat down whilst others’ around me were still standing from applauding the departed Anaclet. During the Manor days, very occasionally the Beech Road would stand to applaud a substituted player. The scarcity of such an ovation had a very special value. Now it is a Pavlovian response to a raised substitutes board. Sadly, barely anyone in the last 5 years have deserved such a response.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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