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IN THE MOOD.

Paul Moody hit a dramatic injury-time equaliser to keep Oxford's Coca- Cola Cup dream alive last night.

The First Division giant-killers, who had already dumped Premiership Sheffield Wednesday out of the competition, looked condemned to a cruel exit.

But Moody, discarded by Southampton three seasons ago, levelled in stoppage time - burying a right-footed half-volley past keeper Chris Woods after Matt Elliott had flicked on Darren Purse's cross.

Moody, who has been struggling to get a place in the Oxford side this season after scoring 48 goals in the previous two campaigns, said: "A draw was the least we deserved.

"I missed a good chance just a few seconds before. The ball wouldn't come down and I probably snatched at it, but in the back of my mind I knew I'd get another chance.

"When it came, I was just pleased to put it in."

Defender Richard Dryden had put Saints ahead in the 26th minute with a thunderous drive from 25 yards - only his third goal since his move from Bristol City.

But the rest of the game belonged to Oxford, who would have caused another big upset had striker Martin Aldridge not fluffed three easy opportunities. Manager Denis Smith insisted his battlers were well worth another tilt at The Dell on December 18.

"We were thinking we were never going to score, but we had done enough to get a replay," he said.

"We're now just happy to be in the hat and Southampton will be disappointed because they thought they had done it.

"The attitude and spirit of my side is magnificent. They never believed they were beaten, which is a tremendous asset."

Southampton boss Graeme Souness said: "We'd have settled for a draw beforehand because we know the Manor Ground is a hard place to come to.

"We are pleased to get them back to our place, but Oxford will really fancy it in the replay because they have come back from the dead."

Souness had shown his tough streak by withdrawing Israeli star Eyal Berkovic because he reckoned he hadn't been doing enough.

It was a riveting Cup-tie with Oxford cheered on by their first sell- out crowd for two years and the First Division side gave Southampton's multi-national team countless scares.

But at the death Norwegian striker Egil Ostenstad should have wrapped it up, seconds before Moody's dramatic equaliser.

He rounded Phil Whitehead after being put clear, but the Oxford keeper stretched out an arm to knock the ball away.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:West, Alan
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 27, 1996
Words:415
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