18 April 2023

Liam Manning hails Oxford but curses missed chances after Portsmouth draw

18 April 2023

Oxford United manager Liam Manning was left ruing missed chances after what he claimed was his side’s best performance since he took charge against Portsmouth.

The U’s came from a goal behind thanks to Sam Long, who cancelled out Marlon Pack’s stunning first-half opener.

“Terrific response from the weekend (losing to Bolton),” said Manning after the 1-1 draw. “I thought over 90 minutes everything was there bar the finish.

“The intensity we showed at the start, the organisation, the way we pressed, won first contacts, second balls and the way we showed composure to create counter attacks.

“We’re disappointed. I don’t want to say we deserve more because ultimately if you don’t have quality to finish it you don’t, but the rest of it is the best 90 minutes we’ve had and we need to make sure that’s the bare minimum for the final four games. I’m sure if we do that again we’ll win games.

“I can’t fault the effort tonight. I could at the weekend whereas tonight every single individual, but more as a collective, the behaviours were correct in terms of the intensity we expect.”

But Oxford were left disappointed after numerous chances to snap their 15-match winless run in League One, as Gatlin O’Donkor’s first-half effort was deflected wide before he glanced Long’s cross wide of the post.

“For a such a young player, in each of the games he’s played he’s playing some hugely experienced players, some extremely physical players and he got both of them booked on his own tonight.

“When you look at it he’s got some huge potential and it’s now about being clinical, the confidence to do all the good stuff outside the box but now be a killer inside it. He should be going home the hero.”

Portsmouth boss John Mousinho, who left Oxford as club captain in January, said: “That was a really good game of League One football.

“Two sides that wanted to play. I honestly think in any other circumstances we come away thinking that’s a really good point against a side everybody thought would be challenging for the top six this year.

“We got caught on the break a bit too much and most of it was our own doing. We gave the ball away sloppily, I didn’t really feel we were carved open a huge amount during the game, it was more of our own doing.

“We’re disappointed conceding most goals but I don’t think in the first half we looked in a huge amount of danger. Oxford picked up a couple of second balls and we had to defend well but set-pieces was the only way we were going to concede.

“We know we have to do more to create more chances and more opportunities. It’s not something we’re thinking that we can just rely on scoring one goal every week.”

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