Tuesday's disappointing defeat at the hands of Dagenham more or less killed any sense of optimism that had been building and with the side now slumped in 18th place it's not difficult to see why. This weekend's match against Torquay presents an important opportunity to recover from a poor performance for both sides, with Torquay also being out of form at the moment.
The Gulls went down by a goal to nil against basement side Barnet on Tuesday and exited the FA Cup in humiliating fashion at home to Conference North side Harrogate Town (who have already lost to Oxford City this season). Until then they had been going well and are still amongst the chasing pack just outside the play-offs. However, a series of injuries and suspensions have hurt them recently and they come to the Kassam a much depleted side. Regular goalkeeper Michael Poke is out injured, with former Exeter and Truro 'keeper Martin Rice making his Football League debut. In addition, top scorer Rene Howe is suspended after picking up five bookings with Ryan Jarvis moving into the centre to replace him.
Our own injury woes finally seem to be improving at last, though as we recently warned, simply having a strong side will not guarantee a good performance. There is positive news on the return of Michael Duberry, though he obviously won't be ready in time for this match, though his fellow defender Liam Davis will be available for selection after making his first appearance of the season on Tuesday. Question marks remain over Alfie Potter's fitness after he received a hamstring injury and it seems no final decision will be made regarding him until the morning of the match.
One familiar face among the Torquay team is Lee Mansell, who was a member of the epically shit Oxford side that got relegated from the Football League in 2006. To be fair to him, he was one of the better players of that side, but in all honesty that's not saying much. He has, however, been a success at Torquay and is now in his seventh season at Plainmoor. Torquay have been something of a bogey side in recent years, and we have only beaten them once in our last ten attempts. Last season, there was nothing to separate the two sides, who played out two draws.
Military personnel are entitled to a 20% discount for this match with valid military ID.
From the Vaults
Torquay United v Oxford United, 29th November 2008
Darren Patterson's unhappy reign at Oxford came to an end at Plainmoor after a disappointing FA Cup 2nd round defeat to a 10-man Torquay side just weeks after he had declared the club was in a 'relegation battle'. At the time, the club was 16th in the Conference.
You can find this and many other old Oxford matches on our Video Vault page.
Also This Weekend
Oxford's ladies kick off their FA Cup campaign this weekend as they host Battersea Ironsides, currently third in the London and South East Regional League Division One, on Sunday. Last season OULFC reached the third round of the cup, eventually going out to Manchester City, and will undoubtedly be hoping to go even further this time. They are organising a partner club day out for affiliated local teams to boost the attendance. Kick off is at one o'clock at Roman Way. Meanwhile the reserves are in league action in the Southern Region Division One, with a crucial tie away to second-placed Reading Ladies. Victory on Sunday will extend their lead at the top of the table to ten points.