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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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Dear_oh_Dear added 18:36 - Feb 19
LOLLLLLL- no one cares Lambert

Help added 18:36 - Feb 19
This is how positive I feel about Saturdays game.
Oxford will win, especially if PL again starts with 1 up top.
The ref has not shown a red card this season, this will be his first for an ITFC player then.
Other than that I expect normal service to continue with a dire performance from ITFC and frustrated and angry fans spleen venting again at 5pm.

sixtyblue added 18:40 - Feb 19
The editorial at the start of this page reads as if Lambert wrote.Utter crap.

oldegold added 18:55 - Feb 19
Evans make a public statement..get your head out of the sand..the whole of the country is looking at us with bemusement and perplexity. You're a business man right ?

SickParrot added 21:17 - Feb 19
Ipswich 0 Oxford 3

Facefacts added 21:41 - Feb 19
Lambert is such a dinosaur, thinks he's senior to Karl Robinson. And Ipswich Town is a bigger club than Oxford United, is it? When Lambert is gone and after s rebuild maybe.

shakytown added 22:22 - Feb 19
So somehow the players are going to improve 10 million% in a few days and actually show some signs of even giving a s..t. You are without a doubt the worst manager in the history of the football leagues and have the organizational and motivational skills of a lump of coal. JUST LEAVE NOW LAMBERT!!!!!!

Vanisleblue2 added 22:43 - Feb 19
Ipswich 0 Oxford 4
Red card, pathetic performance....repeat, repeat

bobble added 23:00 - Feb 19
at least the super rugby season has started again...might have to give up following football for 10 years or so until the club lifts its dark lord curse...
go the ACT brumbies

ArnieM added 23:15 - Feb 19
Blimey, there’s so much going on in the media about our soap opera of z club these days, I’d actually forgotten we have a game Saturday . But I expect the players will be 100% focused on the game - right?

shakytown added 07:14 - Feb 20
Bobble. No chance with another CRUSADE under way.

LimerickTractorBoy added 08:29 - Feb 20
The almost certainty of Ipswich losing at home to Oxford today is bloody devastating... end of rant.

LimerickTractorBoy added 08:34 - Feb 20
Face facts... We need Lambert gone for sure, BUT a proper rebuild can only happen when Evan's THE DARK DESTROYER OF ITFC, is gone.

bobble added 08:39 - Feb 20
1-0 TO THEM whoever they are ,.../.,yawn..

shakytown added 08:44 - Feb 20
Games on at 4am here in NZ and i cant be bothered getting up anymore. Bobbles probably right all they need is 1 and then just watch our mob wander around aimlessly pointing fingers at each other.

warktheline added 08:49 - Feb 20
It’s all become rather embarrassing now, Lambert has always had similar traits to Roy Keane.....which has apart from his initial tenure, been evident with episodes of ‘toys out of the pram’. The naivety of Evans to reward Lambert with a 5 yr contract ( which the owner assumed would stop future outbursts ) is mind boggling ! Lambert won’t mind be lambasted, he knows it’s only a matter of time before the owner ( who’s far too busy to attend a once widely respected football club ) has to reappear to remove him and stuff his pockets with what’s he owed!.....and of course this will ultimately result in Evans tightening the ‘parameters’!

“No disrespect to Oxford but Ipswich is a huge club!” (Lambert)
“None taken! I wouldn’t swaps seats with you Paul!” (Robinson)

johnwarksshorts added 08:53 - Feb 20
Ffs please play 4 4 2 with either, Parrot and Nors or Parrot and Jackson. Holy Matheson Wolf Baggot Ken
Harrop Bish Dozz Sears
Parrot Nors.

shakytown added 09:21 - Feb 20
He will probably go back to Chambers and Ward just to spite the fans who are telling him to be more positive.

Linkboy13 added 09:49 - Feb 20
Bish and Dozz in midfield awesome Oxford must be quaking in their boots . How much longer have we got to put up with these serial failures.

EricGatesShinpad added 10:01 - Feb 20
I really don't understand the need to 'rest' players? Surely to god he should be thinking I need to rescue this season and play my best possible team, regardless of who might has played lots recently...... it strikes me PL is goingthrough the motions.....

Philpomr added 10:05 - Feb 20
I feel sorry for everyone who’s a fan. I was so lucky to see town in the top levels many times. I remember Mr Sheepshanks meeting fans in the pub before the games, I remember when I worked at the old community trust how proud everyone was working at town.
If it is due (as reported) by the Telegraph that Marcus hasn’t put money in but OWED it from company. This is not a good thing. He is just using the club as an asset which he uses to promote his own company. Anyone who wants to buy the club would have pain off the debt to his company, ensuring he does not loose out.
Not just fans have well and truly been shafted but most of the employees too.

We have an owner who doesn’t care. It’s clear. No voice no response!

I am worried for the future of the club. We need some one who loves the club and the believe and resource to make the club good again.

shakytown added 10:15 - Feb 20
I wonder if there will be a plan A for this game or it will be more aimless tripe???? Im picking the latter

barrystedmunds added 10:57 - Feb 20
Given that our previous attempts to beat anyone in the top 10 of the league has now extended to anyone in the league, I imagine the only ones who would be “upset” would be Oxford! Imagine if we manage an attempt on on goal!!! They’d be livid!
Sadly, Saturday night is not something I’m looking forward to, bit like Tuesdays/Wednesdays.😞😞

Barty added 11:43 - Feb 20
Heathen66- excellent post and I totally agree with you

Razor added 12:21 - Feb 20
Why nothing from Evans?

Nozza and Jackson up front and Edwards wide----it so obvious to anybody but an idiot-----oh I forget, we have one who picks the team.

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