Beavers have to settle for first goal-less draw of the season
Hampton pick up a useful point away against Oxford City, but know they should have done better.
The Beavers settled back into their National League South programme with a trip to Marsh Lane to take on Oxford City, and Dowse sprang 3 surprises in the 24 hours before the game with 3 loan signings, which radically changed the expected lineup. Shandon Baptiste, Ben Wynter and Justin Amaluzor went straight into the starting 11 to freshen it up.
Hampton made the first threat as Amaluzor played in Brendan Kiernan down the left, but the striker had drifted a half yard offside, letting off the home team.
Oxford were looking comfortable on an all too new 3G pitch and on 13 minutes, Matt Paterson took advantage of Rob Sinclair's pass to fire in a dipping shot, which Howes had to dive his left to save. From the resulting corner, Joe Oastler got his head to the cross, but the header was well wide.
It wasn't until after the half hour that the Beavers finally got an attempt on target. Max Kretzschmar's free kick, following a foul on Amaluzor by Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain, crept around the wall, and keeper Jack Stevens had to push it clear while slightly off-balance.
Just before the half time break, the home side worked a clever free kick routine that required the defending Amaluzor to block a shot from Freddie Grant from just outside the 6 yard box that would probably have required Howes to have to make a smart save.
Early in the second half, the Beavers opened up and Stevens had to be alert to make a great stop from a Jack Cook header after a Kretzschmar free kick set up the big defender.
With almost an hour on the watch, Kiernan switched back out wide (Amaluzor coming inside) and he tried an effort from 25 yards that only just dipped over the bar with Stevens looking worried.
10 minutes later, Christian Jolley set off on one of his trademark gliding runs through the centre and set up Taurean Roberts but the assistant decreed the wide man was offside, letting off the home side again.
Oxford took heed of the Hampton pressure, and nearly wrenched the match open just a couple of minutes later. A pass deflected off Jolley into the path of Paterson, and he struck a neat shot what beat Howes but it struck the keeper's right hand post; the rebound being gratefully gathered up by Howes before an Oxford player could get there.
The game then drifted as neither side looked to able to break the other down, until with the game deep in added time, the City almost sneaked a late winner.
Oxlade-Chamberlain's near post cross flicked off Jack Cook and was instinctively diverted onto the crossbar by Howes to preserve the clean sheet and also the Beavers unbeaten National League South record, which now stands at 17 games.