Tuesday, 12 February 2013

PREVIEW: Fleetwood Town Home (12/02/13)

Oh dear. Barely two and a half weeks ago things were looking rosy in the garden of Oxford. We were unbeaten in eight league games and on a winning streak of four matches which had lifted us to within just a few points of the play-offs. Then we travelled to Fleetwood, took a pasting and things have barely improved since, with just one point gained since that match.

Now it's their turn to come to us and one would expect that revenge is at the forefront of our minds. But such is the level of disappointment amongst fans at the way things have gone recently that anticipation levels are at their lowest for any match this season. The embarrassing attendance for our last midweek match at home to Burton looks like it won't be the lowest of the season after all.

Fleetwood may be challenging hard for a play-off spot and be unbeaten since we last met them, but they are one of the most poorly supported clubs in the league and it seems unlikely that they will bring many fans to boost the gate. They come into the game on the back of a win away at Torquay. One Fleetwood player who could be feeling the pressure is record signing Jamille Matt who, after scoring against us on his debut, has flattered to deceive and come in for criticism from Fleetwood fans. And another who could be a doubt is experienced striker Jon Parkin – who also scored against us – after he was substituted in the first half on Saturday having struggled with his hamstring lately.

And in typical Oxford fashion, we have fresh injuries to worry about after Justin Richards suffered a knock on Saturday which could see him miss out for this game. Add him to the ever-lengthy list of absent first-teamers, but one player who could return in some capacity is Andy Whing. He made an appearance for the reserves last week against Chinnor and Chris Wilder will be looking to ease him back into action as soon as possible.

But it's beginning to feel as if we will never have a fully fit squad and that the best we can do is write this season off and look to rebuild in the summer. A victory over Fleetwood, however, could change that perception, especially if other results go our way – and with Southend playing Cheltenham and Wycombe facing Bradford we know that at least two of the teams around us will drop points.

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