5 of the Best Oxford Comebacks

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

Read More

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.

Article 2 Article 1

The Future's Bright

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

Read More

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.

Read More

We'll Win Nothing With Kids?

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

Read More

Friday, 30 August 2013

PREVIEW: Rochdale Home (31/08/13)

Rochdale are the next side to attempt to inflict a first defeat of the season on Oxford, as they make the trip to the Kassam. But Dale are still looking for their first away point of the season after losing 1-0 at Plymouth last week and at Burton in their second match. But for Oxford, despite the continued optimism that comes from still being top of the table, there have been signs that our problematic home form could trip us up again. The performances against Bury and Wycombe – although yielding four points – were far from convincing and many fans still view our excellent start to the season with caution.

That said, Rochdale are the type of side we usually do well against. They tend to play an open and attacking passing game, which should make this match not only a highly entertaining one, but also highly winnable.

Perhaps the deciding factor will be in how we line up for the match. With Sean Rigg and Deane Smalley out injured last week, Chris Wilder chose a different approach to the one which had been successful in the opening matches. Alfie Potter was moved from the wing to a more central position just behind lone striker James Constable, while Scott Davies and Asa Hall came into the middle of the park. This resulted in a narrow and congested midfield and as a result United lacked a lot of the threat and drive that playing with pacy wingers has given us.

It will be interesting to see whether Wilder persists with this formation this weekend (and it may depend on the availability of Smalley and Dave Kitson) or whether the much-vaunted wingers make a return. In the latter case, the key decision would be whether it is Callum O'Dowda or Ryan Williams who gets the nod. Against Wycombe, it was the right-sided Williams who came on with Potter being moved to the left and although he didn't exactly distinguish himself on his debut Wilder may still feel he is the preferable option over the raw O'Dowda.

Both Tom Newey and Deane Smalley have featured for Rochdale in the past. Newey made just two appearances for the Dale towards the end of the 2008-09 season on loan from Grimsby, featuring in defeats to Bournemouth and Gillingham. Smalley's spell at Spotland was longer – but only just. In the early part of the 2010-11 season, prior to joining league leaders Chesterfield, Smalley made three substitute appearances for Rochdale on loan from Oldham, but he didn't score and returned to Boundary Park shortly after.

Last time Rochdale came to the Kassam it was Andy Whing who stole the show, as United put in a sterling performance to win 3-0. Whing's remarkable effort was later voted 'Goal of the Season' in last season's TBFUTH Awards. That went some way to making up for a miserable defeat at Spotland earlier in the season but the Kassam hasn't always been a happy hunting ground when Rochdale come to town. They were the first competitive opponents to come to the stadium back when it was first opened in 2001 and despite a Jamie Brooks goal Dale were 2-1 victors on the day.

Also This Weekend

It's not just the senior team that are unbeaten so far this season. The youth team are looking to build on a 3-2 victory over Swindon and a 1-1 draw at Torquay as they travel to Plymouth this weekend in their third Youth Alliance match of the season.

Share this

Monday, 26 August 2013

Oxford United 2-2 Wycombe Wanderers

It took a last-gasp equaliser from Johnny Mullins to preserve Oxford's unbeaten start to the season. United looked distinctly average against a spirited Wycombe side and fell behind just before half-time when former U Dean Morgan slipped free of his marker and fired home. The match kicked into life in the second half as Wycombe's Charles Dunne was dismissed for a vicious elbow to Alfie Potter and Danny Rose levelled the scores with the free-kick. Morgan added his second for a penalty and all looked lost when Mullins blasted the equaliser in the 96th minute.

Share this

Friday, 23 August 2013

PREVIEW: Wycombe Home (24/08/13)

So the 'Derby That's Not Really a Derby' returns this weekend as Wycombe come to town looking to knock their supposed rivals off their perch. We, of course, are top of the league at this early stage in the season with a 100% record from our first three league games and looking to make it four from four. But even a cursory glance at our record at home to Wycombe in recent years should set off alarm bells, with the yellows unable to beat Wycombe at the Kassam since 2005. Those Oxford fans predicting a comfortable home win could be shocked to find the form book overturned this weekend.

Wycombe's start to the season has been something of a mixed bag, with a 1-0 opening day victory at home to Morecambe being followed up by defeats to Wimbledon and Mansfield. By all accounts the Chairboys' display last weekend was a real shocker so they could either be drained of confidence ahead of their visit to Oxford, or (more likely) seeking a response. Similar to last week's opponents Torquay, Wycombe's matches have so far been low-scoring affairs, with just three goals scored in their league matches (and only one of those for Wycombe). But with United so far having scored nine times and conceded three in our opening three league games, that record could be about to change.

Wycombe are likely to hand a debut to 20-year-old midfielder Billy Knott who joined on loan from Sunderland during the week, while striker Paris Cowan-Hall is likely to miss out with medial ligament damage sustained last week. Captain Stuart Lewis is another absentee, currently serving a suspension after getting sent off in Wycombe's defeat to Wimbledon.

Sean Rigg will be a big miss for Oxford after tearing his hamstring at Plainmoor last week, which will keep him out of the side for six to eight weeks, but we will be boosted by the return of Alfie Potter and Dave Kitson after the batterings they've received in recent matches. The absence of Rigg means that Callum O'Dowda could get a run of games in his place, having impressed hugely during pre-season. Of course, last weekend Chris Wilder chose to replace him with Asa Hall and he got his name on the scoresheet, which certainly provides some food for thought. Whoever gets the nod against Wycombe would seem most likely to feature in Wilder's plans over the coming weeks.

As you might expect with two clubs that are separated by just 30 miles, there are several familiar faces in the two sides. Foremost among those is Jon-Paul Pittman, who spent the last two seasons at the Kassam after joining from...Wycombe. His time at the club was ravaged with injury and as a result we never saw the best of him and he made just 12 appearances in all competitions during that time. Another name on the Wycombe teamsheet that will conjure some (mostly negative) memories for United fans is Dean Morgan. His brief spell on loan at the Kassam Stadium was characterised mostly by his prima donna antics and most were relieved to see the back of him when he finally left the club. Scott Davies also has a Wycombe link; the Aylesbury-born midfielder was in Wycombe's (now-defunct) Academy until he was sold to Reading aged 14 and also spent some time on loan at Adams Park in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, making a total of 27 appearances in all competitions and scoring six goals.

Wycombe's visit to Grenoble Road last season is one we'd rather not remember as the Chairboys ran out comfortable 1-0 winners after an insipid Oxford performance. In fact, we've only beaten Wycombe once at the Kassam Stadium when Ramon Diaz oversaw a 2-1 home victory with goals from Jamie Brooks and Steve Basham. However, it's not all bad. Our last visit to Wycombe was a very happy one indeed, as United put on an imperious performance to beat the Chairboys 3-1, having lost the previous six away league games. Proof indeed that when these two sides meet, form goes out of the window.

ALSO: Don't forget that this match is Yellow Army Flag Day! If you own an Oxford United flag it's your job this weekend to bring it, hang it up at the stadium or wave it as they players come out. Don't have one? That's no problem! The Yellow Army will be selling flags outside the 12th Man Bar tomorrow, or if you have a bit of spare time on your hands, why not make one?

From the Vaults

Wycombe Wanderers v Oxford United, 11th November 2006

18 matches into our first season in the Conference and still unbeaten, having just beaten title rivals Dagenham & Redbridge away in the preceding qualifying round, optimism was high going into this match. However, it just wasn't meant to be on the day and after matching Wycombe for much of the game the higher league side's clinical finishing proved the difference between the two teams.

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

Share this

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Alan Hodgkinson - 'Between the Sticks'

If your only reason for reading Alan Hodgkinson's new autobiography, Between the Sticks, is to get a glimpse into life behind the scenes at Oxford United in the past few seasons then prepare to be disappointed. Hodgkinson's spell at United merits little more than a brief mention at the back of the book. In fact, his entire coaching career seems to be brushed over somewhat, with the last couple of chapters serving to document his last 40 years as a coach, which is something I found a little disappointing because, as the world's first goalkeeping coach, it's this that really marks Hodgkinson as an exceptional figure in the development of the game.

Where this book does excel, however, is as a fascinating insight into the mind of a pioneering figure and his opinions on the development of the game over the last sixty years. Frequently throughout the book as Hodgkinson reminisces he draws comparisons between then and now, highlighting the progress (and sometimes its lack) over the intervening decades.

A few of the highlights include his recollections of joining Sheffield United from Worksop Town (Hodgkinson only accepted a contract from the Blades because of the promise of a new suit!), his thoughts on the revolutionary managerial methods of Joe Mercer, an interesting insight into England's 1962 World Cup campaign in Chile and his tale of a fiery clash between a young Brian Clough and the infamous Sir Stanley Rous (which possibly explains why the former was never selected as England manager!).

Having read his intelligent observations of the game, it only enforces the impression that Oxford have been incredibly lucky to have had Hodgkinson on board to impart his vast wealth of knowledge and experience on our keepers for the last few years. A simple glimpse at the quite ridiculous list of tributes in the front pages of the book from football's great and good really serves to reinforce just how well-respected Hodgkinson is in football, including the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and the great Jim Smith.

In fact, probably my favourite of Hodgkinson's anecdotes is one of his most recent. In 2011, he arranged for Oxford to train at Manchester United's Carrington base on the way to an away game at Morecambe. When they arrived, they were greeted by a banner organised by Alex Ferguson himself which read: 'Welcome to the Master – Hodgey – the Goalkeeping Guru'.

And if that isn't enough to convince you that this book is worth buying, nothing is.

Share this

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Torquay United 1-3 Oxford United

Table-toppers Oxford kept their 100% record intact with a 3-1 win in the wind and rain at Torquay. Deane Smalley opened the scoring just after half-time with his third of the season, while James Constable and Asa Hall rounded it off for United. There was some concerning news on the injury front, however, with Dave Kitson not recovering from last week's knock in time to feature and both Alfie Potter and Sean Rigg going off injured early in this match.

Share this

Friday, 16 August 2013

PREVIEW: Torquay Away (17/08/13)

Oxford head down to Torquay looking to build on their 100% start to the league campaign. The yellows went top of the league on goals scored after last week's 2-1 win over Bury, but having been in this position at the same point last year most fans are all too aware how early in the season we still are.

It's still an unusual position for us to be in though, having scored six goals in our opening two games – we only scored 59 in 46 games last season. That could all come to an end this afternoon, however, as Torquay's matches so far this season have all been low-scoring affairs, with 1-1 draws in the league against Wimbledon and Morecambe sandwiching a 1-0 League Cup defeat to Swindon. Alan Knill typically sets up his sides to be difficult to break down and it seems that this Torquay team are no different. Although they've not yet been hitting the net with tremendous regularity themselves so far, they could be boosted by the return of Elliot Benyon from a head injury which ruled him out of the Morecambe game last night. Also possibly returning for the Gulls is goalkeeper Michael Poke, while young prospect Dan Sullivan could be one to watch after he made his senior debut last weekend and scored twice in a friendly against Cheltenham during the week.

As for ourselves, while Chris Wilder is often criticised for tinkering too much with the team, it seems he is keen at this stage to keep a settled lineup, so expect minimal changes from the side which has impressed against Bury and Portsmouth. Dave Kitson is obviously a doubt after being on the receiving end of some rough treatment last week but other than that expect the side to look more or less the same as we've seen in the last couple of weeks.

The only player likely to feature with a connection between the two sides is Torquay's Lee Mansell, who spent one miserable season at the Kassam when the club was relegated to the Conference, though he was voted player of the season at the end of it all. Unfortunately for him, Mansell then suffered relegation to the Conference again the following season with Torquay, though this time he stuck around and has remained a vital player for the Gulls ever since, helping them back into the Football League in 2009. He has featured in all of Torquay's games so far, so expect to see him once again in midfield for the hosts this time around.

Torquay boss Alan Knill is also an old friend of Chris Wilder's. He was manager of Bury while Wilder was assistant there, so expect a touching reunion this weekend...

Torquay are always a club I think of as something of a bogey team, but that's not something which appears to be backed up by the record books. Oxford are currently unbeaten against Torquay in the last five meetings between the two sides. Our last trip to Plainmoor was a happy one, as we came away with an impressive 3-1 win, though the Gulls held us to a frustrating 0-0 draw at the Kassam last season.

From the Vaults

Torquay United v Oxford United, 10th December 2005

We've had some great matches down the years at Torquay, and this was one of the most spectacular. As mentioned above, the 2005-06 season was not a happy one for Oxford, but in the opening exchanges of this match everything finally clicked into place. Eric Sabin was looking a world-beater and soon bagged himself a brace, while a penalty from Lee Bradbury put the U's 3-1 up inside the first 20 minutes. Of course it wouldn't last, and Torquay struck back to reclaim a 3-3 draw. Still we'll always have this rare moment of genius from Sabin!

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

Also This Weekend

Fans who get to Torquay early can catch an Oxford double-header this weekend. The youth team are also away at Torquay as they look to build on their 3-2 victory over Swindon on the opening day of the season. The match kicks off at 11am, leaving plenty of time to get to Plainmoor to watch the first team, so if you can get there don't miss it! The address of the ground is as follows:

Cullompton RFC
Speeds Meadow
EX15 1DW

The ladies team are also in action this weekend as they host Sporting Club Albion (aka West Brom) of the WPL North in a friendly on Sunday. They lost 2-0 in a friendly away at Nottingham Forest last weekend, so they'll be looking for a reaction this time around. Kick-off is 2pm on Sunday at Roman Way.

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

Share this

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Why I Choose Oxford Over the Premier League

The Premier League has lost the plot!  Every season and every transfer window the money thrown around is staggering. In one transfer alone Tottenham would receive £105m for Gareth Bale if he decided to leave for La Liga top boys Real Madrid. In another potential transfer Barcelona would receive £35m from Manchester United for midfielder Cesc Fabregas and in the last that sticks out is the Suarez debacle where Liverpool could be set to receive a minimum of £40m and £1 if the transfer goes ahead. Thats £180m for three human beings who, let's face it, kick a ball around for a minimum of 90 minutes - albeit with a lot of skill! It's also more than the market value combined of the goods produced by the UN's 10 poorest countries in a year!

The point I'm trying to get at is that the Premier League has not only become obsessed by money and making the biggest signings possible, but it has also lost touch with in my mind the most important thing in the game: the fans. I have been to quite a few Premier League grounds in my time; St James' Park, the Stadium of Light, the Riverside Stadium, Old Trafford,  White Hart Lane to name a few. The thing that strikes me the most when you are at these grounds is the fact that you don't feel like a fan but more of a customer.

I don't get that feeling when I go to the Kassam Stadium. Yes, we don't own it and yes we resent spending money on a beer or a cup of tea or coffee because it lines the pocket of our once self-centred chairman, but to me whenever I go I still feel like part of the club and that I am appreciated by the club and the players for taking the time to be there. We are quite fortunate to have a dedicated area of the club which deals with working with the community and we have a good supporters trust in OxVox.

After doing an admittedly quick bit of research on the internet I could find just a handful of Premier League clubs that have a supporters trust (Manchester United, Swansea, Tottenham and Arsenal ). I'm sure a more detailed search would find that most have one and so they should! With the average ticket price for a Premier League game last season being nearly £30, fans of these Premier League clubs need these supporters trusts like our own to fight their cases when it comes to such matters as this. Only recently in May a number of members from their respective club supporters trusts met to discuss the ongoing issues of Premier League clubs distance from the fans. This culminated in a letter written to the Premier League expressing their dissatisfaction at the price of tickets within the league. 

The situation lower down the leagues provides a total contrast. For example, Brentford FC were one of a number of lower league clubs last year who offered fans a pay-what-you-like initiative for one their League One matches. This says to me the club cares about the fans. They were giving them a chance to come to a game even if they only had 10p to their name. I couldn't ever imagine Arsenal doing that at the Emirates! 

Closer to home at Oxford United there has always been a sense of togetherness. There are often hash tags such as #OUFCfamily flying around on Twitter and I've always felt the  fans are important to the club. In recent seasons initiatives such as Ultimate Support Saturday and Ultimate Support away days have been introduced hoping to attract more fans to come along and create the best atmosphere possible. We have the 12th Man scheme which is a fan-run project to help the  club raise much needed funds to help sign players on a permanent and loan basis. The club has supported this by retiring the number 12 shirt from the squad and giving any help it can. Other recent ways of involving the fans have come in the form of the club's recent "United We Stand" season ticket campaign providing fans the chance to renew season tickets at reduced prices and offering other fan incentives such as savings on the club's Yellow Player media service and the chance to attend an open first team training session to see what goes on. 

But perhaps most important is the formation of the Yellow Army which is the coming together of OxVox, The 12th Man group, the team behind the Ultimate Support days and the Ultras to enhance the matchday experience and the overall atmosphere around the club. These schemes are without doubt a good way to help improve the day-to-day fan feel part of the club and help us feel needed by the people we sometimes might not. Right now, the sense of togetherness around the place is palpable.

The fans will always pay money to go and see their football team play no matter how much it is, but that doesn't mean the clubs should charge what they want, with the price of some Premier League tickets being as much as £126 those teams run a real risk of losing the most important people at the club, the fans!

Share this

Monday, 12 August 2013

Oxford United 2-1 Bury

Oxford got their home campaign off to a winning start with a 2-1 win over Bury to go top of the formative League Two table. Danny Rose's excellent free-kick was cancelled out by Bury's Tom Soares, but Johnny Mullins struck to win it for the yellows. The visitors finished the game with ten men after Nathan Cameron received a second yellow for dissent. United we stand!

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.

Share this

Thursday, 8 August 2013

MATCH REPORT: Didcot Town 0-3 Oxford United

Tyrone Marsh bagged himself a brace as the development squad strolled to a straightforward 3-0 win at Didcot Town. Triallist Dylan McGlade did his cause no harm with a fine performance, capping it with an excellent solo goal.

You could have been forgiven for thinking that Didcot were still in the changing room after 15 minutes, such was United's dominance in the opening stages of the match. Aidan Hawtin was the first to try his luck, shooting narrowly wide after just two minutes. Moments later Marsh drew the first save of the game as he connected with a cross from Hawtin. In fact, Didcot goalkeeper Gareth Tucker was all that stood between Oxford and a commanding early lead, making an exceptional reaction save to deny Marvin Ekpiteta who rose to meet another Hawtin cross. But the goal that Oxford had been threatening came soon enough, as Marsh darted in to nod home after McGlade had twisted and tricked his way past his man and delivered a dangerous ball in.

Didcot were stung into action and finally began to probe the young Oxford defence. Just minutes after falling behind, the hosts had the ball in the net themselves when Harry Halls rose to head in a free-kick. However, as Halls wheeled away in celebration the linesman's flag went up and the goal was disallowed. It looked a marginal decision which left the Didcot players and fans unhappy, but having dominated so far it would have been harsh for Oxford to be pulled back level after Didcot's first attack of the game.

But having started like a freight train, Oxford had by now slowed down to more of a slower chug (sorry, couldn't resist!), though they were still easily in control of the match. McGlade added a second just before the half-hour mark after twisting and turning past several challenges before slotting past Tucker.

Josh Shama was causing all sorts of problems for the Didcot defence as well and he came close to giving Oxford a third with a header, but Joel Meade was on hand to clear it off the line. But Crocombe was called into action shortly before half-time to palm away a free-kick as the Railwaymen sought a route back into the match.

Picture from @OxfordMailOUFC
But it was Oxford who remained on the front foot after the break and Hawtin came agonisingly close to adding a third as he saw his powerful shot come thundering back off the underside of the bar. Tucker again had to be on his toes to turn away shots from David Lynn, Josh Ruffels and Scott Davies (not all at the same time) but there was only so much he could do as the chances just kept coming. Marsh got his second of the night after some good work out wide from substitute Gregg Hackett, slipping the ball past the keeper for Oxford's third.

The yellows made several changes to give some of the youth team players some game-time, but still United's dominance continued. James Roberts came on for the final ten minutes and came close to grabbing a goal himself as he burst through the middle of the defence, but was unable to prod it past the goalkeeper.

Didcot could be in for a tough time this season, if their pre-season is anything to go by. As well as being comfortably beaten by United's development squad tonight, they suffered a worrying 4-0 defeat against an experimental Oxford City side, as well as troubling defeats against Hellenic League sides Milton United and Ardley United. Let's hope they're saving their best for when the season gets underway!

As for us, Marsh, Shama, Hawtin and McGlade put in impressive individual performances, but what impressed me most was that they put on such a coherent display having only been thrust together as a group this summer. Already there are signs of an understanding between several of these players and perhaps that bodes well for our development system as a whole. I'll be very interested to see how they develop over the course of the season.

Share this

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Charlton Athletic 4-0 Oxford United

Oxford crashed out of the League Cup with a miserable 4-0 defeat against Championship side Charlton. The scoreline was harsh on United, but Charlton were certainly the superior side. They took the lead after 18 minutes through Simon Church and added a further three goals after the break following a decidedly limp second-half performance from the yellows.

Monday, 5 August 2013

PREVIEW: Charlton Away, League Cup (06/08/13)

The season is barely a few days old but already the games are coming thick and fast. We've had just three days to bask in the glory of Saturday's impressive opening win, before kicking off our League Cup campaign away to Charlton.

Supporters are understandably in buoyant mood going into the match, but it goes without saying that an away trip to a Championship side will be no walk in the park. And whereas in previous years we've treated cup competition as of equal importance to the league, Chris Wilder's statement after the match on Saturday that he was looking to make some changes for this match perhaps suggests that the league campaign is our sole focus this term.

But with the development squad playing in a friendly at Didcot on Wednesday, changes are unlikely to be wholesale. Senior players who started on the bench on Saturday and possibly a couple of the younger players who are closest to the first team could feature in the starting XI at the Valley. Expect the likes of James Constable, Michael Raynes and Asa Hall to play some part.

Charlton will also be making several changes to the side which suffered opening day disappointment at the hands of Bournemouth on Saturday, with an eye on keeping key players fit for the visit of Middlesbrough next weekend. Former Dagenham midfielder Danny Green and 23-year-old Dale Stephens are likely to feature, while Amersham-born Simon Church could make his debut after joining Charlton from Reading in the summer.

The Addicks may well look at the cup as a good chance to recover from Saturday's disappointment, but their form against lower league sides in recent years has left many of their fans fearing an upset. Recent seasons have seen Charlton crash out of the League Cup at the hands of Wycombe, Luton, Yeovil, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Preston and Leyton Orient - an esteemed list indeed. Further hope can be taken from the fact that the Valley has hardly been a fortress of late, with Charlton winning just eight times at home in the league last season (with six draws and nine defeats) and their only home pre-season friendly yielding a defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

The Valley will be a familiar hunting ground for Chris Wilder, who spent three games on loan at Charlton from Sheffield United in 1990 and 1991. Other than that, it's a step into the unknown for both clubs, with the last meeting between Oxford and Charlton coming in a 2002 League Cup fixture. On that occasion a drab 0-0 draw (a staple of the Ian Atkins era) was brought to life by a dramatic penalty shootout which ended with Jefferson Louis blasting Oxford into a third-round tie against Aston Villa. That victory was all the sweeter for being our first against Charlton since 1987 – 13 matches had passed in that time and we had lost the last seven of them consecutively. In fact, that win was our first ever at the Valley after 16 previous attempts.

From the Vaults

Charlton Athletic v Oxford United, 16th August 1997

The yellows had made a good start to the 1997/98 season with 2-0 wins over Huddersfield and Plymouth in league and cup. But we soon came unstuck against Charlton, finding ourselves 2-0 down and effectively out of the match early in the second half. That sparked a horrible run of five defeats from six league games...let's hope history doesn't repeat itself!

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

Share this

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Portsmouth 1-4 Oxford United

Well we said before the game that Oxford would be starting the season in style, but no one could have predicted this! On a sun-soaked south coast afternoon 2,500 travelling Oxford fans saw their side demolish title favourites Portsmouth 4-1 away from home. Two goals apiece from Alfie Potter and Deane Smalley did the damage to get the season underway in perfect fashion, with United joint top of the league!

Share this

Friday, 2 August 2013

PREVIEW: Portsmouth Away (03/08/13)

The football season is upon us and it looks set to be a cracking start, with United getting underway at a sold-out Fratton Park against new-boys Portsmouth. The away end will be packed full of 2,500 yellows who are making the trip to the south coast but whether they'll come home happy or sad is very much in the balance. Both sides seem to be tipped to do well this season, with Portsmouth currently the bookies' favourites for promotion.

Portsmouth have recruited heavily over the summer, with new faces including Patrick Agyemang from Stevenage, Andy Barcham from Scunthorpe and Joe Devera from Swindon. However, the most interesting one as far as we're concerned is Tom Craddock, who could become involved in something of a 'battle of the exes' as he tries to do some damage to his old club at one end, while former Portsmouth striker Dave Kitson attempts something similar at the other.

As well as Kitson, David Hunt and Tom Newey will be hoping to make their league debuts for Oxford this weekend, as well as the returning Danny Rose, Asa Hall and Johnny Mullins. Although, unlike last year, there are few injury concerns at the start of this season, there is one notable absentee. New signing Jonathan Meades has been ruled out for 12 weeks after rupturing ligaments against Coventry last weekend.

Craddock and Kitson aren't the only connections between the two clubs. Pompey manager Guy Whittingham made one appearance on loan for Oxford, scoring against Swindon before returning to Fratton Park to take over as caretaker-manager alongside Steve Claridge. He also featured briefly for Oxford City in his younger days.

It's almost 15 years since Oxford and Portsmouth last met in a competitive fixture (a 2-2 draw away at Fratton Park) but we have faced them more recently than that in a friendly. In 2008, shortly after they had famously won the FA Cup, Harry Redknapp brought his side to the Kassam to face Darren Patterson's Conference side, with young Alex Fisher scoring a last-minute consolation goal against David James in a 2-1 defeat. There have also been plenty of more meaningful encounters between the two sides, with Oxford currently unbeaten in our last three against Pompey. In general our record against Portsmouth is average, with 16 wins and 19 defeats from 48 previous league encounters.

Fans making the trip this weekend be sure to look out for the Yellow Army collection buckets in the away end. The money raised from these will go towards the fund to buy Dave Langan's Milk Cup medals. Just £2,000 to go!

Another great cause fans may want to donate to is the 'March for Mitch', a group of Stevenage fans who are walking 60 miles from the Kassam to Broadhall Way this weekend in aid of the Cardiomyopathy Association – the charity which Mitchell Cole was an ambassador for prior to his tragically premature death. You can donate here.

From the Vaults

Portsmouth v Oxford United, 22nd December 1984

Times were good at the Manor – we were chasing promotion to the top flight and with only three league defeats all season appeared to be cruising to a comfortable 1-0 victory away at Fratton Park when some nutter dressed as Father Christmas ran onto the pitch and halted play. In the time added on for the stoppage Pompey struck twice through Alan Biley in one of the most shocking reversals Oxford fans will ever have seen. Some are probably still having nightmares about it now.

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

Share this