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Blues Host Oxford Aiming to Upset Form Book
Friday, 19th Feb 2021 13:08

Town host eighth-placed Oxford United again looking to end their dreadful form against teams challenging towards the top of League One.

The 11th-placed Blues have beaten only Accrington, Crewe and Plymouth of the sides above them but with Stanley the only team in the division’s upper echelons when they met.

Defeating Oxford will be a tough ask with Karl Robinson’s side having been on the charge since December having made a poor start to the campaign following last season’s 2-1 play-off final defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.

Town have been unable to put a run together since the opening weeks of the season when they won five of their first six to top the table with manager Paul Lambert's job hanging by a thread as a result.

The Blues have won just one of their last six, three of their last 10 and four of the last 14. At home, they have won only twice in their last nine.

“I think they've done well," Lambert said when asked about Oxford's form. “I think the time we played them [at the start of December] and it ended 0-0, we got absolutely slaughtered for getting a 0-0 there, and that just shows you the difference between the size of the two clubs.

“No disrespect to Oxford, but Ipswich is a huge club. Karl's done really well, and he did well at MK Dons as well so I didn't think they were going start the way they did because they got into the play-offs last year.

“They've kept most of the guys there, so I didn't think they [would start as slowly as they did]. As everybody will tell you, there's still a long way to go, 20 games to go, but they've been on a really good run.”

Lambert says Oxford’s form is an illustration of where momentum can take a team: “All you need is one win and if that one victory gets you to turn the corner, then hopefully that's what happens, but all it takes is one win and one result.”

He added: “I thought they were a good side last season, even when we went there and drew 0-0 the last time.

“The games have always been hard and close with us and them, and I don't expect this one to be any different.

“I think we'll have a close game and for us to beat them, we'll need to play well, and for them to beat us, they'll need to play well.

“We have to try and get that result and we have to try everything we can to get that result. What Karl's done, I always think he's done well where he has been. I've known of him for a long time.”

Asked about confidence in his squad following Tuesday’s flat performance as the Blues drew 0-0 with Northampton - their only stalemate other than the game at the Kassam Stadium this season - Lambert said: “Do you know what, they’re a good group, they’ve just been getting on with it.

“I think I’ve said before, we don’t try and make the place really downbeat and all that sort of stuff.

“What happens here should always stay in here [at the training ground]. Regarding attitude-wise, everybody’s frustrated at not winning and all that, everybody is, everybody’s in the same boat. But that’s my job to keep them upbeat.

“We go into this game, we’ll be upbeat and we’ll be ready for it, this game, that’s for sure.”

Lambert seems likely to stick with keeper Tomas Holy but with a trip to second-placed Hull City on Tuesday, will probably rest one or two players, while Flynn Downes will be unavailable due to his two-game ban.

Luke Matheson will probably continue at right-back with either Myles Kenlock or Stephen Ward on the left.

Lambert could opt to rest one of his centre-halves, Luke Woolfenden and Mark McGuinness, and recall skipper Luke Chambers.

In midfield, Andre Dozzell could move back into the deeper role in Downes’s absence with Teddy Bishop and Alan Judge appearing likely to return to the XI and Josh Harrop, who made his first start since October as he made his full Blues debut on Tuesday, dropping to the bench.

Up front, Troy Parrott could again start as the lone central striker, although James Norwood could be in with a chance if the former Tranmere man is considered ready following his recent hamstring problems.

With Gwion Edwards unfit, Freddie Sears will probably be on the left and Luke Thomas on the right unless the on-loan Barnsley man isn’t over the knock he suffered on Tuesday, in which case Jack Lankester could come into the team for his first start since December.

Oxford are the division’s form team having lost two of their last 17 in all competitions, including Tuesday’s 2-0 Papa John’s Trophy loss at home to Tranmere.

In the league they have lost one in 13 and recently went on a run of nine successive victories in all competitions.

“We go there in good form despite losing on Tuesday night,” manager Karl Robinson told his club’s official website.

“We have just been watching the chances back against Tranmere and there were a lot of them. We didn’t play well but we played well enough to win if we had been that bit more clinical.

“We have the players to create and take chances and it was just a massively frustrating game for all of us.

“But we have to bounce back straight away. There are 11 weeks left and we have 20 games. That will fly past because it is so condensed but we are one point off that top six and we still have a wonderful opportunity.

“No game is ever easy and we have to make sure we are right for every single game we have left now.”

Reflecting on last season’s corresponding fixture, which his team won 1-0, he said: “We got the win, and it was important but they missed a sitter before our goal and three or four more really good chances.

“So everyone talks about a great performance but if one of those goes in then it’s very different.”

Oxford are expected to have forward Eliot Lee available again having missed Tuesday’s cup tie due to a calf problem.

Defender Sam Long is a doubt with a hamstring injury, while midfielder Marcus McGuane is closing on on a return from a thigh issue.

Historically, the Blues have had the better of the U’s, winning eight (six in the league) of the games between the teams, drawing seven (seven) and losing six (six).

Away from home overall, including their disappointing start to the campaign, Oxford's record reads won six, drawn two and lost six.

Town and Oxford played out a dull 0-0 at the Kassam Stadium in December with the home side coming closest to breaking the deadlock.

Blues keeper David Cornell pushed a James Henry cross on to the post in the first half, while Town, who hit their first effort on target in the 90th minute, went nearest to scoring when Jon Nolan shot over on 75.

The teams last met at Portman Road in February when Matty Taylor’s goal a minute before the break saw Oxford United to 1-0 victory over 10-man Town.

The Blues dominated the first half but were unable to find a goal and were hit by a sucker punch just before the break.

Town huffed and puffed for the most part in the second half and had Kayden Jackson red-carded for an alleged stamp in injury time.

Saturday’s referee is Marc Edwards from Tyne and Wear, who has shown 72 yellow cards and no red in 20 games so far this season. Edwards will be taking charge of his first Town match.

Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Matheson, Ward, Kenlock, Chambers (c), McGuinness, Woolfenden, Dozzell, Judge, Huws, Harrop, Bishop, Lankester, Thomas, Sears, Edwards, Parrott, Norwood, Drinan.

Photo: Matchday Images

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MonkeyAlan added 13:13 - Feb 19
Another week of this sh!te.Upset the form book, do me a favour!

aloanagain added 13:23 - Feb 19
We might need the Nolan sisters in defence and the Jackson 5 up front to give us a sporting chance.

meekreech added 13:32 - Feb 19
Can't believe how many times he has spoken the same words before the game! I no longer wish to see a presser because they are a complete waste of time and effort.

Will we have to listen to the same old presser post match about the maximum effort put in and how well we played but due to fine lines and injuries we managed to have a shot at goal in added time but it hit the corner flag !

Linkboy13 added 13:33 - Feb 19
Its a sad state of affairs when we've got to upset the form book to beat Oxford United. There's not one player at the club who you can say has been outstanding this season.

Jesney_Havoc added 13:36 - Feb 19
Barnstoneworth, Barnstoneworth !

ChrisFelix added 13:42 - Feb 19
Same team set up, no threat up front. Same result & with Hull guaranteed 3 points next Tuesday, the only positive is surely we must be near to a change of manager

cromwellblue added 13:54 - Feb 19
An eventful news week that once again leaves more questions than answers.

Clearly Lambert has something to say, but despite his continuing big club brag, he seems reluctant to step up and tell us what his problem is within the club. Previous managers have hinted at similar issues. Come on Paul out with it!

Hopefully his tenure will end next week. Then perhaps we’ll find out.

Then I call on Mr Evans for some honesty. What is your motivation hear? While you put in a lot of money the harsh reality is it’s not enough to move us forward. If you can’t do what’s needed then step aside before this club is beyond recovery.

After Lambert I worry who gets appointed. I’m minded to suggest Dyer & Butcher as interim. We then need to get someone who can shake this club up, I think far to many of the squad are comfortable. We need to properly develop the younger guys to get better results and move on some of the senior squad.

We have to properly rebuild and sadly that may mean a few more seasons in this league.

As much as we’d all love promotions, what chance we would stand in the Championship 🤷🏽‍♂️


Bert added 13:56 - Feb 19
“What happens here should stay here” . If that’s the case, and it should be, then why does he contradict himself re Nolan and Jackson. Whether it’s said in the dressing room, the practice pitch or elsewhere, a professional manager should handle himself better than what Lambert is doing.


RobITFC added 14:20 - Feb 19
After 50 years of supporting this club , whilst Lambert is still here and the entertainment value is "Zero" I no longer care... wake me up somebody when he has gone!

Roola added 14:30 - Feb 19
I'm so fed up and disgusted with this club. I have been a supporter since I was 7... Back in 1988... I've supported through thick and thin since then but I'm now done with giving my hard earned cash to Marcus Evans while he has no care about this club. Yes, Lambert is sh*te, but Evans (apart from donating money to keep us afloat) has slowly strangled and asphyxiated this club since he arrived. It's heartbreaking that I feel like I don't support a football team anymore.

chepstowblue added 14:59 - Feb 19
Instead of putting myself through the wringer and experiencing every horrible minute of the next two games, I may switch everything off until wednesday morning and then read up on the 2-0 and 3-0 defeats at my own leisure!

tractorboybig added 15:00 - Feb 19
bit confused here. surely we cant beat bottom teams either?

jas0999 added 15:01 - Feb 19
Law of averages suggests we are due a win. Let’s just hope that doesn’t stop ME sacking Lambert regardless of the result.

WeWereZombies added 15:16 - Feb 19
Eight - One! Eight bl00dy One...

Skip73 added 15:16 - Feb 19
"It only takes 1 win to turn the corner". Not when you change half the team after that 1 win it won't, you donut!!!
We had a win against Blackpool and thats exactly what you did.
On another note, I see that Town are 'aiming' again this week. I wonder how much they'll miss the target by this time.

dirtydingusmagee added 15:50 - Feb 19
lol he could have been on The Comedians with Bernard Manning and the gang. im dreading the pubs reopening and having to drink with canaries, I just hope the ''face to face'' is to say goodbye. Anything less is unthinkable. Evans ,times up ! Lambert you're washed up !. and right now ITFC is f##ked up. JUDGEMENT DAY APPROACHES.

floridaboy added 16:07 - Feb 19
Can only see an Oxford win tomorrow and by a few as well.

With dippy Downes suspended why put Dozzell back in front of the defence. He cannot do that job. Nolan could but our much travelled manager wont pick him. Put Harrop there Dozzell further forward. But please play two up top. We are not Manchester City or Liverpool we are ITFC and struggling in the third tier. 4-4-2 please!

DifferentGravy added 16:24 - Feb 19
Ha! Genius Aloanagain! lol

Blue_Meanie added 16:33 - Feb 19
ITFC at home against Oxford Utd. hoping to cause upset; even 5 years ago that headline would as unbelievable as people wearing surgical masks in the street!

heathen66 added 16:45 - Feb 19
What is justifying Chambers and Wards return ???
The last 2 games we have played Matheson, Woolfenden, McGuiness and Kenlock together we kept clean sheets. The last game they both played we conceded 2 goals.
Nolan and Jackson should start in a proper 4-4-2, unless Lambert really does not want to win and force his sacking and pay-off.
Parrott looks OK but is no goal threat as a lone striker.
Give him a rest and start Norwood and Jackson

dirtydingusmagee added 16:46 - Feb 19
I assume the big ''face to face'' is going to be all ticket and allotted in same way as games were, or the attendance would go through the roof.

IpswichToon added 17:10 - Feb 19
The Blues have beaten only Accrington, Crewe and Plymouth of the sides above them.

Could you have imagined even just a couple of years ago that all of these teams would be above us. What a mess this club has become.

planetblue_2011 added 17:52 - Feb 19
Who cares I won’t be watching it!
Once the manager is sacked I will bring myself to watch them again.
Lambert out

istanblue added 18:02 - Feb 19
Does anyone actually want us to win this game and give Lambert a possible further stay of execution?

Saxonblue74 added 18:27 - Feb 19
First game for weeks that I wont be paying to watch. No more from me until things change. Lambert is doing his utmost to upset all and sundry prior to his showdown next week in the hope of a pay off. Wouldnt be disappointed to lose if it moves things on a little!

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