Friday, 9 August 2013

PREVIEW: Bury Home (10/08/13)

Won one, lost one. So reads the form of both Oxford and Bury going into this match, although in reverse order. While our post-Portsmouth elation was deflated somewhat by League Cup defeat at Charlton, Bury were able to shake off a less-than-ideal 2-0 home defeat to Chesterfield on the opening day with an impressive 3-2 win over League One Crewe on Tuesday.

Honours even there, then. Bury come into the season as something of an unknown quantity after a summer of upheaval which has seen new owners and a huge number of new players. Things were looking bleak for the Shakers at the end of last season as they crashed out of League One with mounting financial troubles which threatened the very future of the club. Fortunately for Bury, new chairman Stewart Day has come in and appears to have stabilised the club, allowing manager Kevin Blackwell to build a side to compete in League Two.

There at least Bury are a familiar proposition. Blackwell has a wealth of experience of building effective but unspectacular sides, which seems just the thing needed to get out of this league. With money tight and limited numbers of players, Blackwell seems to be looking to keep an established side and build an understanding among a stable starting XI. New loan signing Jordan Sinnott could come into the side, but other than that it seems unlikely that Bury will make many changes to the side that has started the last two games, with Shaun Harrad and Ashley Grimes leading the line.

In contrast, Chris Wilder shuffled the pack for the trip to Charlton with four changes to the side which won at Portsmouth on the opening day. And all indications are that there will be several changes again for this match, with Wilder's preferred XI likely to resemble the one which started last week at Fratton Park. Alfie Potter, Sean Rigg, Deane Smalley and Dave Kitson are all expected to return for the yellows as Wilder looks to return to his strongest side for the visit of Bury.

Bury are another of Chris Wilder's former clubs, having spent six months as assistant manager at Gigg Lane prior to taking the Oxford job. Tom Newey is another of the current Oxford side to list the Shakers among his former clubs, making 32 appearances for Bury during the 2009-10 season before leaving for Rotherham.

You have to go back to September 2005 for our last victory over Bury, when we beat the Shakers 2-1 in what was a rare win under Brian Talbot. Since then our record isn't so great with Bury doing the double the last time the two sides were in the same division, winning 2-1 at the Kassam and 3-0 at Gigg Lane on their way to promotion. The first of those was a frustrating game in which United dominated but were ultimately undone by a more disciplined and clinical side – an early lesson soon after our return to the Football League. The latter was far more comprehensive, as Oxford's season fizzled out while Bury went from strength to strength during the run-in and there was only ever one side in the contest. Matches between the two sides haven't typically been thrilling affairs – in seven meetings between 1997 and 2000 the two sides produced just 11 goals (an average of just 1.5 per game). Let's hope for something better this time around!

From the Vaults

Oxford United v Bury, 15th November 1997

The 97/98 season had started awfully and as it was quickly becoming apparent that all was not well within the club, as supporters became disenfranchised with those behind the scenes. Things were no better on the field and this dull draw came in the midst of a seven game winless streak. Despite dominating possession we were unable to turn this into goals and ultimately paid the price, conceding a poor equalizer to an average Bury side. Enjoy!

You can find this and many other old OUFC matches in our NEW & IMPROVED VIDEO VAULT!

Also This Weekend

The youth team begin their Youth Alliance campaign with a highly-anticipated trip to Swindon Town. Last season Oxford came out on top in all three meetings between the two sides (twice in the league, once in the cup) with an aggregate score of 8-2. Let's see if they can match that in one game this weekend! Their form has been mixed during their pre-season campaign, with big wins against Deddington Town, Bailey Elite Football Academy and Portsmouth, but also with defeats at Northampton and Wantage thrown in for good measure.

The Oxford United ladies team are back in action once again, though they won't play a competitive game until the commencement of the new WSL2 season in March next year. They're hoping to build on last weekend's 2-1 win over MK Dons in their first friendly with a trip to WPL North side Nottingham Forest, where they will come face-to-face with former player Nina Merritt, who joined Forest during the summer.

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