Ah yes, Oxford United – a club that we seem to irk in some form or other ever since their Work Experience Kid forgot to press send on the fax machine and earned the Us a five-point deduction in 2008-9; a mistake that let us leapfrog them into the playoffs at the end of that season. It’s alright Oxford, we get it – you don’t like us. It’s just that we’re not entirely sure that we care…
Michael Appleton – now on his 136th Football League club as manager – brings his team to town this weekend as we look to pick ourselves up after that narrow and rather galling defeat at Shrewsbury Town last time out. And if the form charts are anything to go by, this one might not be as simple as their three-points-off-relegation position suggests. And we’ll tell you for why…
… right after this drinks break.
And we’re off again. If you look at the league table, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Us aren’t having the greatest of times this season. In fact, barring a mathematical catastrophe and the fact that some of those teams below them are playing each other this weekend, Oxford United could have been joining Hartlepool United in propping up the division if they were to lose at the Lamex this weekend.
But the Us are in fine fettle on the road and haven’t lost in their last five away from the Kassam. Boro’, meanwhile, haven’t witnessed a defeat on our own turf in the last seven games and have the fourth best home record in the division with a 69 per cent win rate. And these are factoids that would easily have you think that we’ll be adding to the six draws we’ve played out between us and them in 11 meetings to date.
You could think that, for sure. But digging a little further reveals that away run includes draws at Hartlepool and Dagenham. Yeah, they won at Plymouth – but we’d have done the same had the game ended before the 122nd minute or whatever extra time was played out. We have every reason to be confident of three points from this encounter, loaded with obvious caveats about playing like wot we have done lately.
Onto what the virtual world has to say about these things and we’ve now learned that we have to stick with the same 11 that started last week. That means Macca on the bench, Walton in and whoever these two new additional long-term injuries are. The bottom line? They weren’t much cop, we didn’t get out of second gear and Adam Marriott won it:
The bookmakers seem determined to rope in some money from the Stevenage faithful, and no doubt a price of 5/4 on the home win might well tempt you to have a flutter. Much like the 12/5 you can get on a draw, no? And try figure this one out – 62 per cent of Boro’s home games have seen Over 2.5 Goals, while 62 per cent of Oxford’s away games have seen Under. There are no prizes for exactly 2.5 goals… for a good reason.
And that’s that. The weekend is all but upon us at last and, while our lads are busy getting ready for business (arf!), try this one on your journey home or down the local with your mates – exactly what will it be this time around that gets Oxford United most miffed? Our dollar goes on a 93rd-minute winner, with Darius Charles 20 yards offside and three opponents upside down in a plant pot. You never know.
Remember, there are three sides to the Oxford United story