Rochdale 1 Oxford United 2

Rochdale went down to a 2-1 defeat at home to Oxford but made the league-leaders fight all the way for their points.

The home side stormed back in the last quarter of an hour in which they came very close to getting an equaliser.

Rochdale were in early trouble but kept Oxford out until the 29th minute when Steve Basham deflected a shot from the edge of the penalty area past goalkeeper Neil Edwards, even though there were five defenders watching him.

After 50 minutes Julian Alsop made it two for Oxford with a close-range right-foot rocket after full back Matthew Robinson had put the ball across from the left wing.

New arrival Lee McEvilly and Kevin Townson made a big difference for the home side. Kevin Townson almost scored with his first touch.

Dale's goal on 53 minutes was scored by old boy Gary Jones, back at Rochdale on loan from Barnsley.

Jones crashed the ball home from the edge of the penalty area and he had a chance to improve on this shortly afterwards but fluffed his shot from the same kind of position.

Oxford had a subdued second half although both Alsop and Basham went close as did never say die Dean Whitehead, always a thorn in the flesh of the home defence.

Late on Rochdale made frenzied efforts to rescue a point but the Oxford defence, guilty of a bit of dithering at times, managed to hold out though keeper Andy Woodman was called upon once or twice to make great saves especially from McEvilly and Jones.