Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Consistency the key for exciting United

It's been a very busy month. I have returned to University where I have been appointed the Sports Editor of the paper. I have also spent too much time in Bristol nightclubs. Hence my lack of regular posts on the blog.

Since I last wrote here, Oxford have continued to impress and recently sat in the giddy heights of an automatic promotion place. However, last weekend's loss to Kent outfit Gillingham has seen us slide back down to seventh, albeit still a very respectable position.

I'll start with the Accrington Stanley match, where the Yellows were once again held at the Kassam. Although many fans berated United's inability to turn draws into wins at home on BBC Radio Oxford after the game, I must give John Coleman's side credit here. Stanley, similarly to last year, played some attractive football and clearly have a very strong team spirit running through their team. Moreover, their playmaker, the bald-header scouser Ian Craney, is one of the most talented players I have seen grace the Kassam in the last few seasons. He was a constant threat to the Oxford defence and it was he that helped Accrington to a well-deserved point last month.

In the blistering sunshine at Edgar Street, Oxford responsed in the best possible manner, defeating struggling Hereford by a single Robert Hall goal. Hall has proved to be one of Wilder's most inspired loan signings; his electric pace, tricky footwork and eye for a goal have been crucial to United's success this month. He's one of the those players who can actually get away with sporting yellow boots. I'm not sure I can quite say the same about Michael Duberry's white ones. A quick word on 'Dubes.' He is turning out to be a colossus for us at the back. He has turned our shaky back four of last year into a solid, organised unit.

A few days later in the JPT (the trophy fans secretly want their team to get knocked out of), United recorded an away victory over Aldershot. Remarkably, Deane Smalley got on the score sheet, through a stunning solo effort. I'm rather eager for us to defeat Southend in the next round, as a two leg tie against Swindon could await. On a rainy Tuesday night, that could be quite tasty.

The next game against Bristol Rovers was one I had been really looking for to, given my University roots. In front of a large crowd, Oxford produced a superb performance running out 3-0 winners. Constable, Oxford's talisman netted twice. His first on sixteen minutes was vintage 'Beano'; he twisted Rovers' lanky centre back, Cian Bolger, inside out before giving himself room to smash the ball home. Wonderful stuff.

This was followed by a trip up north to lowly Macclesfield (which I confess, I did not attend). Moss Rose is one of United's bogey grounds, shown by last year's match where the Yellows managed to throw away a two goal lead. Oxford looked like losing to the Silkmen yet again, but drew level with the last kick of the match thanks to Robert Hall.

This result left Oxford third in the division. Unfortunately, last week's disappointing result at Priestfield has seen us move back into the play-off places. Worst still, the Gills had been reduced to ten men with the whole of the second half to play (and nine men just before the end), but much like the Crewe game, Oxford could not finish a host of chances that fell their way.

United now have two important home matches, against rock bottom Plymouth and traditionally strong Port Vale to try and steer themselves back into those much-coveted automatic spots.