BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Karl Robinson’s return to Charlton Athletic ended all square as his former club were left ruing more of a cutting edge.
The Addicks had scored 10 goals in their two previous matches – eight of those in an enjoyable EFL Trophy romp at Stevenage – and looked to be firmly in the ascendency when Lyle Taylor rammed home from the penalty spot.
It was the summer signing’s eighth goal in 14 appearances.
But Charlton, fresh off a 2-0 home victory over promotion rivals Barnsley, struggled to create all evening.
Gavin Whyte’s fine second-half strike earned Oxford a point in a battling display as Robinson’s first time back in SE7 since quitting towards the back end of last season did not end in a ninth defeat of the league campaign.
It was no surprise that Taylor, so influential this season, had a hand in the play that led to the spot-kick. He had pulled wide to the left throughout the opening 45 minutes and his deep cross was collected by Ben Reeves, whose surge into the box was ended illegally by Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood.
Taylor ignored gamesmanship from Tony McMahon to slam home just before the half-hour mark. “You’re getting sacked in the morning,” chanted the Covered End to Robinson.
Some of Charlton’s approach play had surgical touches but lacked end precision. It was typified by Joe Aribo squandering a chance to make it 2-0 on 35 minutes. Karlan Grant rolled the ball into his path but the young midfielder horribly miscued his attempt at a shot.
That lack of control in the final third prevented the Addicks from chalking up more chances.
Former Charlton fans’ favourite Ricky Holmes was largely deprived of the ball in dangerous areas but did flash a warning just before the interval, his right-footed curler from the edge of the box lacking the required bend.
His previous good service to the Addicks counted for nothing in terms of a good reception – even when he clapped the home stands first when replaced late on.
Charlton continued to find it hard to chalk up tangible opportunities but Oxford defender Rob Dickie, already booked, was lucky to get a lengthy talking to by referee Dean Whitestone after fouling Taylor. Soon after he was replaced by Jamie Hanson.
Oxford weren’t exactly working up an attacking sweat of their own but had parity on 70 minutes. Substitute Whyte found the top left corner of the net. While his players celebrated wildly in front of their travelling fans, Robinson showed not even a flicker of emotion.
Reeves curled wide soon after and it was to be the former Milton Keynes man’s final action of the night as Jamie Ward replaced him.
Darren Pratley flicked a Josh Cullen free-kick over the bar but the Addicks struggled to get a flow to their play, Oxford racking up the foul count undoubtedly aiding in blunting some of the South Londoners’ fluidity.
Jamie Hanson’s shot slicked off Jason Pearce but Jed Steer was able to successful grasp the ball with James Henry unable to convert late on for United.
The draw leaves Charlton 11th in the League One standings.