npower League 2 action from the Kassam StadiumA first away goal of 2013 and a first away league point of the year was enough to see Albion climb to the heady heights of third in npower League 2 as Jacques Maghoma's 70th minute equaliser rescued a point from a hard working performance against Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium. Albion looked as if they might be slipping to another away day defeat when James Constable's 50th minute header broke the stalemate but Maghoma's tenth goal of the season ensured that Albion did not leave empty handed
Gary Rowett opted to go with a 4-4-2 formation for the visit to the U's but made one change to the side that defeated Barnet on Saturday with Matt Paterson preferred to Billy Kee in attack. There was also a change on the bench as Marcus Holness replaced Nathan Stanton after the former Rochdale man picked up a knock in training on Monday.
Oxford welcomed back striker James Constable after his four match ban and he renewed his partnership in attack with Tom Craddock, the pair having scored 21 goals between them this season so far. In goal 21 year old Max Crocombe made his debut for the U's.
The home side took a while to settle and a low cross through the six yard box from Constable in the seventh minute was the first moment of danger although Sean Rigg failed to capitalise as he was squeezed out at the far post. Full back Damian Batt hit a low drove from thirty yards that flew wide of the upright.
Albion had a chance to test out the rookie New Zealander in the Oxford goal on eleven minutes but Lee Bell's forty yard free kick was always rising and comfortably cleared the crossbar.
Rigg then had another chance to create something for the home side when he pushed forward down the left but his low cross was easy for Stuart Tomlinson to snuff out at his near post.
Oxford were forced into an early change after just 22 minutes when experienced defender Michael Duberry had to limp out of the action to be replaced by Michael Raynes.
It was becoming a somewhat scrappy affair with neither side really able to impose themselves on the game and with chances so far at a premium it was no surprise that Robbie Weir opted for a speculative shot from distance on 27 minutes, from an angle just outside the box, but his effort flew wide of the far post.
Albion then had Tomlinson to thank for keeping them level with an excellent save to deny Batt. The full back stole in undetected at the back post to meet a superb cross from Adam Chapman and Albion's keeper showed great reflexes to push the ball up and over his crossbar. the danger was not over as the home side had a corner but Michael Raynes from ten yards out could not keep his header down.
With Oxford just increasing the pressure somewhat there was another let off as Tom Craddock twisted and turned inside the area before sending a shot that deflected off Ian Sharps just wide of the far post with Tomlinson beaten.
Crocombe, who had so far looked composed in the Oxford goal almost gifted the Brewers the opening goal from their first corner in the 41st minute. Lee Bell swung the ball in teasingly into the six yard area and the young keeper failed to get much on the ball and he was not far away from flapping it into his own net.
There was still time before half time for Jacques Maghoma to superbly turn away from his man in the centre of midfield and let fly with a fizzing twenty five yard effort that went wide of the upright.
Half time Oxford United 0-0 Burton Albion
The home side made a second change for the start of the second half with Peter Leven the man who failed to reappear, replaced by Tony Capaldi.
The substitute was soon involved as he created the opening goal of the game on 50 minutes. Tomlinson allowed the ball to go out of play despite the ball taking a deflection off an Albion player and when Capaldi swung in the resulting corner it was perfectly onto the head of James CONSTABLE to steer the ball home from close range.
Anthony O'Connor was the first player to see a yellow card although it looked somewhat harsh for what looked like a reasonable challenge on Alfie Potter as he tried to scamper away down the left.
Sharps then produced a superbly timed tackle on the edge of the area just as Sean Rigg looked set to burst his way all the way through and have a shot at goal.
Cometh the hour mark and it was time for Billy Kee to enter the fray. Calvin Zola was the man to make way as Albion looked for a way of getting themselves back into the game.
On 70 minutes Albion made their second substitution with Marcus Holness brought on in place of Matt Paterson. This allowed Zander Diamond to offer an aerial presence up front as he pushed up the pitch.
The equaliser came a minute later although it owed nothing to the substitution. Lee Bell's cross in was held up well by Billy Kee in the middle and then MAGHOMA turned on the ball and with nobody closing him down calmly slotted home from on the penalty spot.
Three minutes later and Albion had made their third substitution. Adam Drury was taken off from the right hand side of midfield and Jack Dyer came on as his direct replacement.
Albion were looking the dominant side now as they took confidence from the equaliser as the home crowd became restless. Oxford almost fashioned a second when Albion's inability to shepherd the ball out for a goalkick almost cost them as the ball eventually fell at the feet of Craddock who blazed well over.
Diamond was certainly making his presence felt in the opposition penalty area and it almost paid dividends with ten minutes to play as he did enough to help the ball fall loose for Kee but the ball wouldnt come down quick enough for him to guide a shot on target.
A hesitant Oxford defence were guilty of giving Kee far too much space outside the box on 83 minutes as they retreated deeper and the young striker was frustrated to see his shot fly over. The former Leicester youngster had another chance deep into stoppage time when Maghoma found him in space but he sliced his first time shot out for a throw.
Diamond had a late effort curl wide on the wind as it bounced just wide of the post and Albion had to settle for a share of the spoils.
OXFORD: Crocombe, Batt, Duberry, Wright, Chapman, Constable, Rigg, Potter, Leven, O'Brien, Craddock. Substitutes: Brown, Raynes, Heslop, Smalley, Capaldi, Worley, Parker.
BURTON: Tomlinson; O'Connor, Diamond, Sharps, McCrory; Drury, Weir, Bell, Maghoma; Zola, Paterson. Substitutes: Webster, Stanton, McGrath, Lyness, Phillips, Dyer, Kee.
Referee: Mr. A.Woolmer (Northamptonshire)
GOALS: Oxford - Constable (50); Burton - Maghoma (71)
Attendance: 4,906 (65 away)