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League Two

Mark Yates hails Cheltenham Town's battling spirit

12 March 2014

Cheltenham Town boss Mark Yates was pleased with his team's resilience as they fought back from going a goal down late on to earn a 1-1 draw against promotion-chasing Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.

Jamie Cureton levelled in the 84th minute as he deflected home fellow substitute Zack Kotwica's shot.

Oxford had gone in front in the 78th minute through Australian winger Ryan Williams, who drilled in a low shot from 15 yards.

But the U's have now gone five games without a win and their hopes of taking one of the three automatic promotion places are receding.

Robins boss Yates said: "We showed good resilience after going a goal down.

"It was a real battling performance, we had to cope with a lot.

"The players have got that belief that we can come back when going behind.

"And we were still trying to win it at the end.

"Their goal was a tough one to take, with a couple of ricochets along the way, but we came back in the end.

"Apart from one game we've been pretty good the last four or five games.

"I'm very happy with a point away from home ahead of two home games now. We want to finish the season strongly."

James Constable was Oxford's main threat in the first hour, with defences on top until the frantic last few minutes.

The U's top scorer headed just wide from David Connolly's right-wing cross and also sent a fierce 25-yard drive over the crossbar.

A superb burst from his own half by Constable in the first period should have brought the home side a goal but, from his pass, Deane Smalley's touch let him down and Robins goalkeeper Scott Brown, quickly off his line, made a smothering save.

Town's ex-Oxford midfielder Sam Deering saw a long-range dipping shot saved by Ryan Clarke before the break.

Cheltenham also squandered a great chance when Cureton's glancing header from a free-kick was diverted on to a post by Clarke's outstretched foot.

Oxford caretaker manager Mickey Lewis said: "I don't think we had a lot of luck. Their goal hit the lad on the floor and looped up and in.

"We should have won that game but I was delighted with the performance. We were on the front foot throughout.

"It's a tough league and you only need to look at the league table to see that. When you see the results elsewhere, it's all draws."

For Williams, it was a second goal in two games after he found the net against Burton on Saturday.

Lewis added: "Ryan's playing his heart out for us. He's a real threat going forward and he took his goal well.

"James Constable had a lot of chances, coming in from the left of midfield, and I was happy with the two that came into midfield, Johnny Mullins and Josh Ruffels, who made it solid in there."

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