WALSALL 1-1 OXFORD
Andreas Makris scored his first Walsall goal as the Saddlers were held to an entertaining draw with mid-table Oxford.
Jon Whitney’s side created the better first-half chances, with Scott Laird having an early goal disallowed and Kieron Morris rattling a post.
The hosts made the breakthrough on 47 minutes as Makris’ half-volley crashed in off the bar, but the U’s levelled through Chris Maguire’s deflected 75th-minute strike.
The result leaves Walsall 14th in League One.
Hoping to end a three-match losing streak, the Saddlers flew out of the traps and had the ball in the net as early as the fourth minute.
A deep Kieron Morris free-kick was headed back across goal by Matt Preston and touched in by Scott Laird from close range - only for the defender to be flagged offside.
Undeterred, Walsall went close again moments later as Morris’ low angled drive rattled the inside of the far post, with a stretching Andreas Makris unable to convert the rebound.
Oxford - still smarting after their Checkatrade Trophy final defeat - gradually gained a foothold, with Joe Rothwell bringing a decent save out of Neil Etheridge with a deflected 15-yard effort.
But it was only the reflexes of U’s custodian Simon Eastwood that prevented the hosts were from going ahead on 25 minutes.
Jason McCarthy’s right-wing cross was laid off by Makris to Morris, whose curling left-footed strike from 20 yards was brilliantly kept out one-handed by the former Blackburn keeper.
Eastwood was less assured on the half-hour, punching a Scott Laird free-kick only as far as Edwards but he was unable to keep his volley down.
The Saddlers had looked the more dangerous throughout the first half and threatened again before half-time, Isaiah Osbourne exchanging passes with Morris before firing a well-struck 25-yarder over.
Half-time: Walsall 0-0 Oxford
Jon Whitney’s side finally made the breakthrough two minutes into the second period, Makris with a stunning left-foot half-volley from 18 yards which crashed in off the bar.
Oxford almost equalised immediately as James O’Connor inadvertently turned Chris Maguire’s low cross onto his own post.
Conor McAleny, the scorer of a spectacular strike against Walsall for Wigan last season, then met a Maguire delivery with a downward header which Etheridge claimed.
After a lull in proceedings, the U’s drew level 15 minutes from time when Maguire’s 25-yard shot took a wicked deflection off O’Connor and rolled agonisingly past the wrong-footed Etheridge.
Michael Appleton’s men could have taken the lead with five minutes remaining but Etheridge made a smart diving stop to tip wide McAleny’s long-range right-footed effort.
United exerted some intense pressure on the Saddlers’ goal in the closing stages, with McAleny fizzing a stoppage-time shot wide from distance, but they were unable to find a winner.
Full-time: Walsall 1-1 Oxford
Team: Etheridge, O’Connor, Preston, Laird, McCarthy, Chambers, Osbourne, Morris (Cuvelier 76’), Edwards, Moussa (Dobson 69’), Makris (Jackson 62’).
Subs not used: MacGillivray, O’Connell, Hayles-Docherty, Candlin.
Attendance: 5,417 (1,146 Oxford supporters).