5 of the Best Oxford Comebacks

We take a look back at five of the most spectacular comebacks available on the internet.

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The Curse of the Kassam?

A pair of articles examining Oxford's poor home form and speculating on the reasons why. In the first we lay the blame on the counter-attacking system. In the second, we examine the role of the home fans.

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The Future's Bright

Oxford's under-18s outclass their Swindon counterparts, leaving your writer purring over their future prospects in the first team.

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The Importance of Width in League Two

Why Sean Rigg and Alfie Potter's form will be essential to our hopes of League Two promotion this season.

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We'll Win Nothing With Kids?

We look at whether the young development squad players are ready to step up to first team action.

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Friday, 20 December 2013

Jack Shoemark's York Preview

Here is the situation; I am an exiled Oxford United fan in the North of England. This is for the large part not too much of a problem due to the number of northern teams that we have faced over the past few seasons – Rotherham, Chesterfield and Barrow (shudder) to name some. However, for two match days a season, it becomes a big problem. Why? I live in York and a fair number of my friends have season tickets for York City. The first fixtures the majority of us look for are the games in York and at the Kassam.  In all honesty, I can often be found getting my football fix at Bootham Crescent or joining the ‘YCFC FunBus’ on away day adventures and very much enjoying it – not Alfreton though (long story) . But the build up to these two matches is always full of shocking banter (teetering on the edge of abuse) and generally the friendship I share goes out of the window for the 90 minutes or longer depending on the result. 
As like last season’s fixture, I spoke to a couple of my friends to get their views ahead of Saturday’s match. Ian Jones and Joe Pinder provided their thoughts… 

Jack: It's almost 10 months since the "thoroughly entertaining" 0-0 draw in Oxford. 
What has changed at York City since then? 

Ian: The new manager bringing in many new faces and a more 'traditional' style of football instead of Mills' 4-3-3 tika taka which on some days saw us play sensational and others was a never-ending nightmare. Things behind the scenes have changed as we become more 'professional' with changes to the training ground and the introduction of a Prozone statistician. 
Joe: Players, management, staff and most importantly short sponsors. Highly unlikely more than 2 players that started that game will be in our line-up will start on Saturday. 

Jack: Has Nigel Worthington been an improvement on Gary Mills? (League position would suggest not) 

Ian: Although league position currently isn't great I honestly believe that Worthington is the right man. We would have gone down under Mills and Worthington can attract (and get) a much higher calibre of player. 
Joe: Yes, at the time of the last Oxford fixture you really couldn't see where the next win would be coming from. I personally think riding the positivity of promotion enabled us to have a good start last season and that masked a lot of problems. Worthington read the situation wrong in the summer and brought in a lot of big, strong, physical players - he quickly realised his error however and has added technical ability to the squad. 

Jack: What's the aim for the rest of the season? 

Ian: No doubt there will be upheaval in January with Worthington bringing in more of his own players. I believe will we certainly pull away from the bottom and finish slightly higher than last year - 12th to 14th. 
Joe: As close to mid table as is possible, but survival is the aim for any bottom half club really isn't it. 

Jack: Who is the best team you've seen so far this season? 

Ian: I hate to say it but it's Fleetwood. Great squad of players. Amazing what money can get you... 
Joe: Nobody has blown me away, Fleetwood were very organised, but there isn't a standout team I've seen yet. One of about five or six teams could easily win the title and I expect a few surprises in the play-off spots come the end of the season. 

Jack: Who are the key players for York? 

Ian: Josh Carson could and should be playing at a higher level and we will be lucky to have him further than the end of this season. Very quick and good with both feet, unlike certain ex-York wingers who I won't mention.... 
Joe: Luke O'Neill - on loan from Burnley, can time a tackle as good as anyone I've seen for York and fantastic going forward - leading our assist chart.  
Josh Carson - Good young player with bags of technical ability, always likely to create something from either wing and works hard defensively. Top player in an average side. 
Wes Fletcher - looked to be creating a great partnership with Ryan Bowman before Bowman’s ban, a constant nuisance up front. Still raw but could be a top player for us giving time to develop a partnership. 

Jack: If you had to take three of Oxford's current squad and put them in your starting XI - who would they be? 

Ian: I really like Danny Rose, I think he's got a lot of quality and simply because our defence is either horrifically bad or over the hill I'd take Raynes and Mullins as they'd walk into our defence. 
Joe: Jake Wright, Johnny Mullins, Danny Rose. 

Jack: Score Prediction? 

Ian: 1-1 
Joe: We owe you for 2009-10. A play-off final reversal of 3-1 York and many unhappy Yellows including a certain Jack Shoemark hopefully! 

I’d like to thank Ian and Joe for taking the time to answer these questions and hope they enjoy the game on Saturday but don’t enjoy the result. 
I’m going for an exciting 2-2 draw. 

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Monday, 18 November 2013

Mansfield Town 1-3 Oxford United

Oxford returned to the top of the table in spectacular fashion with a reassuring 3-1 win at Mansfield. James Constable took all the headlines with his 100th goal for the club, coming just moments after Lee Stevenson had cancelled out Sean Rigg's opener. Ryan Williams added a third before the end and with bottom-of-the-table Northampton surprisingly beating Fleetwood, the yellows now sit proudly top of the pile once again.

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Sunday, 17 November 2013

An Open Letter to the BBC Trust and the Football League Show

By Andy Roberts,

I am writing in an optimistic attempt to right a baffling wrong. Four and a bit years ago, BBC One manfully took on the apparently thankless burden of broadcasting highlights of all those difficult fiddly bits of football beneath Her Majesty's Glorious Premier League.

ITV once had a go at it; with a stark honesty they named their show The Championship after the FA and Coca Cola's brave rebranding of The Best Second Tier Division In the World (tm). Their show contained extensive highlights from the Championship while giving just a cursory nod to the Football League's embarrassing undercarriage; briefly debuting the goal clips from Leagues One and Two.

In 2009, when Aunty took on the responsibility of the less glamorous divisions, encumbered as she is by a heavy public service remit, supporters of lower league clubs were buoyed by the notion that they might be afforded a less thrifty share of the airtime. This notion was reinforced by the exciting news that the BBC were giving the new programme the collective and inclusive title of The Football League Show.

This optimism was short-lived, as it became clear that 80 - 90 per cent of each programme would be given over to the Championship, with (most of) the goals from Leagues One and Two unceremoniously shoved to the back end.

So BBC Trust, we don't want you to worry too much about our usual share on the Football League Show, we got used to that pretty quickly. League Two footballers on Twitter can often be found joking about falling asleep before the goals they scored are broadcast. We also look forward to the rare appearance of the unfailing enthusiastic (or unapologetically patronising) Mark Clemmit at our grounds, as it guarantees a larger share of the Football League Show for our beloved side. It's part of the fun.

What we REALLY struggle with though, is the apparent total disregard we're shown in an international week when the Championship is not in play. We're not expecting an hour of extended highlights each... We're more aware of our standing in the world than that. But we do find it enormously difficult to understand why, just because the Championship isn't happening, the BBC thinks that the other two thirds of the Football League have suddenly become disinterested in seeing the goals from their teams' games on the Football League Show.

A simple 30 minute show, with straight-forward goal highlights from most games and a little snippet from Clem or somebody similar (or entirely different)... There must be room for that?

Thank you for listening.

A retired football commentator, aged 33 and a half.

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Friday, 8 November 2013

PREVIEW: Gateshead Home, FA Cup (09/11/13)

Oxford take another (probably brief) departure from league action this weekend, as we start our FA Cup campaign this weekend, at home to Conference side Gateshead. A home tie against lower league opposition is usually regarded as something of a dream tie in the first round, offering a good chance of progression towards the potentially lucrative third round when the big boys come to play. But given our well-documented home struggles this season, one can't help but feel that this one has 'upset' written all over it.

Last weekend's goalless draw with Luton made it six games unbeaten for the Heed, a run which includes their 1-0 win over Chester in the fourth qualifying round. That run has also included six clean sheets, so with Oxford only managing seven goals in eight home games so far, this could be a frustrating afternoon for home supporters. The visitors, currently 11th in the Conference, are perhaps understandably in confident mood coming into the match, but they will be without former York striker Richard Brodie, Marcus Maddison and former yellow Luke O'Brien.

We, of course, will be without Alfie Potter, who is absent for eight weeks with ankle ligament damage following an appalling challenge that went more or less unpunished in last week's game against Bristol Rovers. Fortunately, Fulham have allowed Ryan Williams to play this week so we do at least have cover in this area for him. Elsewhere, Tom Newey is back at left-back after serving his suspension last week, which means that once again Chris Wilder is left with a dilemma at centre-back with Jake Wright, Johnny Mullins and Michael Raynes all competing for a starting berth.

Of course, all of the above is assuming that we choose to name a full-strength side this weekend. With tickets reduced to just £10 for the game in order to tempt fans who might otherwise have decided to give the game a miss, it could be a sign that Oxford are not particularly interested in the FA Cup this year. The cups have slipped down the list of priorities this season, it seems, crashing out at the first attempt in both the League Cup and the JPT. A weakened side crashed out 4-0 away to Charlton in the first round of the former, while in the latter a youthful side were beaten 2-1 by Portsmouth despite dominating most of the match.

This will be only the third time the two clubs have met in competitive action, the last time coming in our final season in the Conference. In the first of our two previous encounters, a Matt Green goal gave us a 1-0 victory at the Gateshead International Stadium. In the second...

From the Vaults

Oxford United v Gateshead, 27th March 2010

United were on a miserable run of five games without a win and the promotion chase appeared to be faltering as Stevenage began to pull away at the top of the table. And with a crucial trip to Hertfordshire awaiting days later it was essential that we got back to winning ways at home to Gateshead. And after a nervy first half James Constable finally struck to send us on our way in the second, with substitute Matt Green scoring the winner in injury time after Gateshead had been allowed a controversial equaliser.

You can find this and many other old OUFC matches in the VIDEO VAULT!

Also This Weekend

The youth team are back in action this week after their match last week against Hereford was surprisingly cancelled by the visitors at late notice. This time it's Bristol Rovers' turn to come to Roman Way, just a week after their grown-up counterparts came away from the Kassam Stadium with their first away win of the season.

The women's development squad are also back after a lengthy lay-off, still seeking their first win of the season. They host Birmingham City on Sunday in the League Cup, having been narrowly beaten 2-1 in their previous cup game by Yeovil Town.

Don't forget you can find full fixture lists for women's, development and youth teams on our Fixtures page!

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Friday, 1 November 2013

PREVIEW: Bristol Rovers Home (02/11/13)

Table-topping Oxford look to build a lead at the top of League Two as struggling Bristol Rovers come to the Kassam. Rovers haven't won away from home all season and currently find themselves just two places and one point above the relegation zone, having endured a miserable season so far. And while our home form isn't exactly sparkling, we have to look at this game as a great opportunity to build on last week's win at AFC Wimbledon.

Bristol Rovers are currently winless in nine league games, a run which stretches back to August, though they did earn a point against Chesterfield last week. Injuries have plagued the Gas this season, a problem manager John Ward has looked to address this week by signing striker Chris Beardsley from Preston. He looks set to go straight into the Pirates' starting XI this weekend but who will partner him up front seems to be up for grabs. Matt Harrold's chances of playing are rated as '50/50' while David Clarkson is suspended after being red-carded a couple of weeks ago.

In contrast, Oxford will be boosted by the returns of several important players. Deane Smalley came off the bench to play a big part last week and could start as a result, while Dave Kitson is back from suspension following his sending off against Exeter. Could James Constable be dropped to the bench, despite finding the net last weekend? Alfie Potter is also back from injury this week after being ruled out by a hamstring problem in recent weeks, providing a feast of attacking options after last week's famine. Chris Wilder does have one problem position, however, after Tom Newey picked up his fifth yellow card of the season last Saturday. And with Jon Meades still injured it leaves us looking very light at left-back. But with Johnny Mullins returning at centre-back and both Jake Wright and Michael Raynes looking undroppable might we see a return to three at the back in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 formation? Time will tell.

Underestimate Bristol Rovers at your peril. The Pirates started last season in similarly disastrous fashion but finished the season strongly as the league's form side – and they demonstrated how difficult they can be on their last visit to the Kassam Stadium. Then, the tables were reversed as an in-form Bristol Rovers arrived to face a hopelessly out-of-form United and duly took the three points with a comfortable 2-0 victory. There are few predicting a repeat of that this time around but League Two has been so ridiculously topsy-turvy this season that anything could happen.

From the Vaults

Oxford United v Bristol Rovers, 10th August 2010

Oxford returned to action in the League Cup after a four-year absence with a bang, putting six past League One Bristol Rovers in our first home game of the season. Simon Heslop and James Constable each netted twice, while Matt Green and Jack Midson were also on target. Enjoy!

You can find this and many other old OUFC matches in the VIDEO VAULT!

Also This Weekend

It's not just the first team currently topping their league. The youth team are at it too and they're back in league action this weekend at home to Hereford United after Wednesday's comfortable 3-0 win over Didcot in the FA Youth Cup. They've already been beaten once by the Bulls this season, 4-2 in the League Cup, so will be eager for the chance of revenge this time out. The match kicks off at 11 at Roman Way so there's plenty of time to get down to the Kassam once it's over if you fancy a full day of football.

Don't forget you can find full fixture lists for women's, development and youth teams on our Fixtures page!

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