Accrington Stanley picked up a valuable point at home to high-flying Oxford United with a goalless draw at the Store First Stadium.
James Beattie made four changes to the side that drew at AFC Wimbledon last weekend with Danny Webber returning from injury to replace the suspended Kayode Odejayi, who lost the appeal against his red card at Wimbledon.
James Caton and Rob Atkinson both missed out with injuries and were replaced by James Gray and Dean Winnard whilst Michael Richardson dropped to the bench with Kal Naismith taking his place.
Stanley started brightly and were the better side in the opening quarter of an hour with Naismith cutting inside from the right onto his left foot but his shot dipped just wide of the post, evading everybody.
Midfielder Danny Rose had Oxford’s first two efforts at goal, shooting over the bar from 25 yards before seeing his free-kick from a similar distance land on the roof of the net.
Shortly afterwards, Sean Rigg was cautioned for a knee-high challenge on Gray which saw the Northern Ireland under-21 international receive some treatment but fortunately he was able to continue.
Naismith again cut in from the right onto his left foot and slalomed past a number of purple shirts but Ryan Clarke stuck out a leg to divert the shot away from goal.
The visitors were growing into the game and James Constable had their first effort on target with a header from David Hunt’s free-kick that looked to be creeping into the bottom corner before Bettinelli stuck out a hand to palm it around the post.
Andy Whing broke forward in first-half injury time but he dragged his shot wide of the post in the last action of the opening period as the sides went into the break at a stalemate.
Stanley, as they did in the first half, began brightly with Piero Mingoia’s shot being deflected behind for a corner from which Naismith shot over the bar.
Oxford then felt they should have had a penalty when James Constable appeared to be pushed inside the area but referee Carl Boyeson had noticed a prior infringement from a visiting player and the Stanley defence could breathe a sigh of relief.
Chris Wilder’s side continued their attacking onslaught with Rigg driving a shot in from the edge of the area but it only found the side netting.
A cynical Lee Naylor foul on Rose, for which he was booked, gave Oxford another sight at goal but Hunt smashed the free-kick straight into the wall and Whing’s effort from the follow-up rolled tamely wide.
The U’s were certainly on top and should have scored when former Premier League striker Dave Kitson rose highest in the box to meet Rigg’s cross but he flashed a header past the post as the game remained goalless.
Bettinelli then made a great save, holding onto Michael Raynes’ close-range header from Hunt’s long throw as the visitors began to turn the screw in search of the opening goal.
James Beattie made a change to the side, aiming to shore up the midfield, bringing on Michael Richardson for Danny Webber with 20 minutes remaining.
Rigg was looking the most likely man to make the breakthrough for Oxford and he saw his fierce near-post drive saved by Bettinelli before Constable lashed well wide from 20 yards.
The stopper was keeping Stanley in the game and they were grateful to him again as he superbly denied Raynes, who got his head to another long throw by Hunt.
Stanley came closest to winning the game in injury time as goalkeeper Clarke dropped the ball but Hunt cleared the ball off the line to spare the goalkeeper’s blushes.
A hat-trick of yellow cards for Tom Newey, Dave Kitson and Andy Whing completed injury time with a stutter as both sides had to settle for a point.
Report by Sam Robinson