Monday, 27 August 2012

PREVIEW: Leeds United Away, League Cup (28/08/12)

We've had some decent League Cup ties in the last few seasons, and this has to be up there with the best of them. A trip to Championship giants Leeds United was the reward for overcoming Bournemouth in the first round, and it will be the first time an Oxford side has travelled to Elland Road since a 1998 FA Cup match which ended in a 4-0 defeat.

Leeds will pose a formidable test; currently seventh in the Championship they harbour significant hopes of promotion to the Premier League. An opening day victory over newly-relegated Wolves made for an impressive start to the season, but was followed with defeat at the hands of current Championship leaders Blackpool before a return to winning ways away at Peterborough on Saturday. Perhaps most ominous was the 4-0 thrashing they handed to Shrewsbury in the first round of the Cup.

However, it seems likely that Leeds will rest several key players for this match and they run the risk of potentially taking the game too lightly. We are a confident and settled side at the moment, top of the league and riding the crest of a wave. Footballing history throws up numerous examples of lower league sides springing surprises over their unsuspecting illustrious opponents. There is a lot of quality in this Oxford team and Leeds will run the risk of underestimating a talented side if they do decide to field an 'experimental' lineup, as is rumoured. Oxford will also want to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment suffered in our last big cup trip, when we were brushed aside with ease by Sheffield United.

Oxford's most likely downfall comes from a familiar source: the treatment table. Deane Smalley and Tom Craddock, both of whom have been impressive this season, are receiving treatment, Lee Cox will remain on our already lengthy injury list and Forster-Caskey is carrying a knock from Saturday.

The most well-known playing connection between the two clubs is of course Michael Duberry. Dubes spent several years at Elland Road, playing in the Champions League during his time there and famously becoming embroiled in the Woodgate and Bowyer court case. But with his current injury layoff Duberry will be forced to watch from the stands. Tony Capaldi, however, is likely to start. Capaldi spent a few weeks on loan at Leeds (then in League One) during his time at Cardiff City. He only played three times before returning to South Wales. On a vaguely related note, Mickey Lewis made his Oxford debut 24 years ago today, in a 1-1 Second Division draw away to Leeds United.

Our record against Leeds is respectable. The two clubs have not met on a large number of occasions, but when we have faced them we have been very evenly matched. Rage Online tells me that Oxford and Leeds have met 11 times, four of which have resulted in victory for Oxford, four have finished in favour of Leeds and three matches have been drawn. The 44 goals produced in these matches (an average of four goals per game!) have been shared evenly between the two clubs. To find our last victory over the Yorkshire side, we have to go back to 1994 and an FA Cup fourth round replay victory masterminded by Jim Magilton.

From the Vaults

Oxford United v Leeds United, 24th November 1984

Oxford welcomed Leeds to the Manor for their first ever League encounter. Leeds were looking for revenge after being dumped out of the League Cup at the Manor the previous season, but were facing an Oxford side that were top of the league. Leeds stormed to a 2-0 lead, but then up stepped John Aldridge and Co...

You can find this and many other old Oxford matches on our Video Vault page.

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