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Town Visit Oxford Aiming to Build on Accrington Victory
Monday, 13th Jan 2020 16:08

Town visit Oxford United's Kassam Stadium for the first time on Tuesday evening looking to build on Saturday’s 4-1 return to winning ways against Accrington.

That victory, which ended an eight-game League One winless run, saw the Blues climb to third in the table, three points behind leaders Rotherham and second-placed Wycombe with a game in hand.

Town could join the pair on 44 points if they beat Oxford, who are fifth, two points behind the Blues, if they win their game in hand - the fixture was postponed in November due to international calls - but would need to do so by six to go top with Rotherham having a goal difference of 19 to Town’s 14 and having scored more. The Blues would go ahead of Wycombe on goal difference if they won on Tuesday.

“We’re three points off the top and we have a game in hand, a difficult game but we’re in a really good place,” manager Paul Lambert said after Saturday’s victory over Stanley.

“I’m happy with how the lads have handled everything that’s been at them, the good start, the wins, we’ve drawn, we’ve lost, they’ve shown big, big character to come back from a lot of stuff. I’m really happy with them.

“The game with Oxford’s tough, a tough, tough game, but we go there with a lot of confidence.”

Having halted the winless run, which stretched back to November 5th and the 1-0 victory at Rochdale in the league, Lambert says the Blues are now looking to build the sort of momentum which saw them to the top of the table in the opening months of the campaign.

“We’ll go and try,” he said. “If we can play the way we did today and play that way, with that intensity then we’ll certainly be right in the game.

“We’ll see how one or two guys are with knocks, they might need a couple of days to recover but I’m happy with where we are in the table, we’ll OK, three points off the top with a game in hand, so it’s OK.”

After a difficult start, Oxford, who finished 12th last season, built up some momentum of their own and climbed the table, going on a run in which they lost just one in 15 in the league.

However, they were beaten 1-0 at Doncaster on New Year’s Day and then lost 3-1 at home to Rotherham on Saturday, their first home defeat since a 4-2 reverse to Burton Albion in August and the first time they'd conceded goals at the Kassam Stadium since a 3-3 draw with Coventry later that month.

“I’m pretty sure one game, Karl will be fine with that,” Lambert said when asked about Saturday’s defeat. “They’ve done well. The league’s hard, the league’s really, really tough.

“As I said, the big thing we’ve got is expectancy level. There aren’t too many teams [who have that]. Sunderland will have the same and look at them, it’s tough, really, really tough.”


Oxford have re-signed former loanee Marcus Browne from Middlesbrough, as well as Liam Kelly from Feyenoord, Nathan Holland from West Ham, both also on loan, and Rob Atkinson from Eastleigh on a permanent basis this month, which Lambert says can give a squad a boost at this point in a season.

“If you can,” he reflected. “But we don’t have that luxury as such, we can only do little bits here and there. I’d love to go out and buy guys for a million or two million or whatever and give them whatever, but we are where we are as a football club, that’s where we are.”

Lambert fielded a team which was unchanged from the previous league match - the 1-1 draw at Wycombe - on Saturday. Asked whether he would be able to do the same again on Tuesday, he said: “Maybe, but Emyr Huws for example’s not done a lot - I thought he was excellent again against Accrington - [so he may not be ready for] back-to-back.

“We’ll need to have a look at that, there are one or two little knocks we need to look at as well because we’ve got so may games to play. We can’t keep flogging guys, but if everybody’s fine, we’ll see how they are.”

Regarding Freddie Sears, who was left out of the 18 on Saturday, he explained: “We just thought that he’s way ahead of schedule and he’s done ever so well to get himself in the position of where he is.

“So he’s ahead of schedule, it’s going to be really difficult for him to sustain that level. I think Bish is ahead of him fitness-wise, so he’s still got a wee bit of work Freddie, that’s for sure.”

Lambert probably won’t want to stray too far from the team which won on Saturday, while also not wanting to entirely abandon his rotation policy with a long trip to Tranmere following at the weekend.

Will Norris will continue in goal with the back three - from the right skipper Luke Chambers, James Wilson and Luke Woolfenden - unlikely to change. Gwion Edwards and Luke Garbutt are again set to be the wing-backs.

As Lambert said, Huws is the most likely to drop out with either Cole Skuse or Andre Dozzell coming into the midfield alongside Flynn Downes.

Alan Judge will play ahead of them behind front two James Norwood and Kayden Jackson, although Will Keane is pushing for a start having scored three goals in the last four games having appeared as a sub with less the 15 minutes to play in three of those matches.

Sears will probably be on the bench, while Jon Nolan could also come back into contention having made the trip after returning to training last week following his heel problem. New loan signing Josh Earl is also likely to be among the subs.

Oxford’s 11-goal top scorer James Henry is currently sidelined with a thigh injury, while Cameron Brannagan has been ruled out of Tuesday's match after being subbed at half-time in the defeat to Rotherham having previously been out with a knee problem.

Jamie Hanson is back in training after a hamstring injury but Tuesday's game will come too soon for the midfielder.

Yellows manager Karl Robinson, who says he knows nothing with links with the manager’s job at Malaga and is committed to his current club, expects Saturday’s loss to the Millers to motivate his team to bounce back against the Blues.

“It was an uncharacteristic 40 minutes,” he told the Oxford Mail. “But I thought we were far the better team in the second half.

“For me, we switched off but also credit to Rotherham. They won 3-1 and we have no gripes with that.

“I wish them all the best because [assistant boss] Richie Barker is one of my best friends and Warney [manager Paul Warne] is one of the nicest men you’ll meet.

“They hit us on the break which we knew they could do and I am disappointed because I told the players that the way they might score was obvious.

“We had players doing uncharacteristic things that aren’t part of our system and got picked off because of that but you have to accept it and move forward.

“I was pleased that we got a reaction in the second half and took the game to them and the two players who came on, Nathan [Holland] and Marcus [Browne, who scored], made a big impact and that’s important.

“We move on to Ipswich and the big thing is to try and capitalise on the game in hand that we have. Win and we’d probably go back to where we were before Saturday.

"You can’t be too down. Fans will be disappointed, as I am, but you can’t be too down. This run in will be about who copes with winning and losing in similar ways: take a win in your stride, take losing in your stride. Does today motivate you or demotivate you? Does it make you hungrier or less hungry?

“I know my players and this will make them hungrier and give them more desire for whatever this season throws at us in the next few months. It’s going to be a great run-in and we’re all looking forward to it and looking forward to Tuesday night now.”   Historically, the Blues have had the better of the U’s, winning eight (six in the league) of the games between the teams, drawing five (five) and losing five (five). Town are unbeaten in four against the U’s.

The teams last met at Portman Road in February 1999 when Matt Holland put the Blues ahead in the sixth minute, Mark Venus added the second from the penalty spot two minutes later before Christophe Remy pulled one back for the visitors two minutes before the break.

At Oxford’s former home the Manor Ground in the preceding September, the teams had drawn 3-3.

Nicky Banger gave the home side the lead, before James Scowcroft levelled. Dean Windass restored Oxford’s lead but David Johnson netted a second equaliser for the Blues.

Town thought they’d won it when Kieron Dyer scored with four minutes remaining but Andy Thomson stole a share of the points for the Yellows, who were relegated that season, in the final minute.

Although Town have never played a competitive game at the Kassam Stadium - where they moved to in 2001 - they won a pre-season friendly at Oxford’s current home in July 2004.

After the home side had taken a 1-0 lead, Tommy Miller (2), Darren Bent, Pablo Couñago and Jim Magilton saw the Blues to a 5-1 victory.

Town loan left-back Garbutt spent last season on loan at Oxford making 28 starts and eight sub appearances, scoring four times.

Tuesday’s referee is Leigh Doughty from Lancashire, who has shown 57 yellow cards and two red in 20 games so far this season. Doughty will be taking charge of his first Town match.

Squad from: Norris, Holy, Edwards, Donacien, Garbutt, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Earl, Skuse, Dozzell, Downes, Huws, Judge, Bishop, Nolan, Jackson, Keane, Norwood, Sears.

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TractorCam added 16:15 - Jan 13
Huws hasn't done a lot what? Surely he's 100% fit by now and was one of the best players on Saturday.
8

Dolphinblue added 16:48 - Jan 13
Yep...play Huws pls
5

therein61 added 17:08 - Jan 13
Keep the formation that did so well in the first hour Saturday we took the game to them the midfield were full of get up and go, and all was looking good then mr negative came on and the whole situ changed especially a comfortable looking defence who then changed into wobbling jelly!, just keep him on the bench in case a central defender has to come off he can manage that but offers nothing in midfield as Saturday proved.
6

jabberjackson added 17:42 - Jan 13
And who was there at the Manor Ground on that heady day in April (?) 1992 when we got promoted to the Premier League for it's inaugural year?
Memories please...
6

cat added 18:56 - Jan 13
Let’s hope lambert keeps the same starting line up as Saturday and don’t tinker or succumb to player power and accommodate Skuse. Can’t remember leaving PR buzzing as much as Saturday, play like that regularly and we’ll smash this league.

JabberJ - weren’t at that one but was at the Manor Gr in 85 (think) when we went 3 up and lost 4:3. John Aldridge getting 3 for them.
3

braveblue added 08:31 - Jan 14
Huws out and Skuse in will put us on the back foot. Just keep the same team.
9

TR11BLU added 08:56 - Jan 14
Same starting 11 please. But if no Huws, must not play Skuse. Offers nothing and should be back up at best from now on in.
2

DifferentGravy added 09:40 - Jan 14
Tough away game & conditions won't help. I wont gripe as long as we are making a game of it & create chances. For that to happen I just hope he doesn't revert to mass changes again! COYB
0

ITFCsince73 added 12:17 - Jan 14
Never been a better time to be playing Oxford this season.
Players who starred for them upto now, have been recalled from loan deals, by parent clubs.
2

roystevensonsrocket added 12:35 - Jan 14
Same again PL please . Subs to come on only when we are 3 up . Change the team more if you must on Saturday against Tranmere as they are a poor team.
0

unknown100 added 12:46 - Jan 14
Sears is well ahead, don’t run before you can walk, would be heartbreaking to see a long term injury again just because he was rushed

Huwes on the other hand? Surely he’s back fit now, think Skuse will come in huwes and otherwise be unchanged
0

dirtydingusmagee added 12:57 - Jan 14
i know its Oxford not Liverpool , but its a big big game in our position, need to be taking points from teams above and around us now.
3

spanishblue added 14:29 - Jan 14
Jabber I was remember pulling one of my younger supporters through a gate after the equalizer panicking as his mother would of gone nuts steward pulling one way me the other ha great day Jasons brother sitting on top of a Beamer doing 70-80
0

Saxonblue74 added 15:01 - Jan 14
Still confused by the Will Norris thing, are we expecting to sign him permanently? If not, why is he ahead of Holy?
3

Northstandveteran added 15:20 - Jan 14
@jabber.

I did make a comment about this earlier so apologies for the repetition, but hey, it was a fantastic day.

I was 17 years old in the away end with my friends who were a few years older than me. When we scored it seemed like the whole stadium erupted.

As the game ended, I was pushed over the gates by my mates and got stuck on top while the stewards swung them open.

I have memories of 365 town fans on the dug out ( slight exaggeration ) but they were clinging on to each other for dear life!

Lyall walking down the steps, seeing thousands of Ipswich fans rush towards him, then legging it back from whence he came 😂

I also wrestled Craig Forrests glove off his hand.

A few days later John Wark and Shaky Milton signed my Brighton ticket in Jack's cafe that I'd just bought.

Again, apologies for the repetition but do remember that team was put together for peanuts which goes to show what a great manager the man was.
2

BettyBlue added 16:41 - Jan 14
First unchanged league team of the season and bingo whadyknow
4-1 home win.
What will LamChops do? Change the team for no reason. Obviously.
Stubborn as Mick.
1

goat_man added 16:43 - Jan 14
He can't seriously be thinking about putting Cole Skuse back in there? The midfield moved more freely on Saturday without him.
1

DurhamTownFan added 17:02 - Jan 14
Holy... not even mentioned here. Sad, but Norris did ok at the weekend I suppose.
0

runningout added 17:56 - Jan 14
No experts in the game of football. Forget about building on previous wins and runs.. just win, win again and win the next and repeat. We know our once great team are more than capable
1

shakytown added 18:05 - Jan 14
No Skuse please because if he plays we will sit to deep and be vulnerable at the back and he is just incapable of passing the ball forward. Keep the same starting line up unless you HAVE to change it
2

BlueandTruesince82 added 18:19 - Jan 14
Weather is awful this way tonight, not going to be a pretty game
0

blueboy1981 added 18:41 - Jan 14
Remember - Lambert doesn’t need to please the fans now, the mission has been accomplished - watch him now contradicting everything we say.
Even winning football matches for us doesn’t matter, least of all keeping on the side of the fans.
If some of you haven’t noticed that, then you should have ..... even after a very successful first 60 minutes on Saturday playing as most of us have asked.
The real PL is now on show - expect whatever comes our way.
-1


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