LINES FROM LONDON OXFORD (A)



The Bristol Rovers match was very frustrating and we really need to get our finishing and final passes together if we want to get out of League One. Oxford will provide tough opposition as they nearly got promotion last season and a good result today will lift spirits tremendously. I must repeat what I said last week that Scowen needs to be on there as his accurate corners and crosses were something we lacked against Bristol. I wouldn't start with Grigg as he looked like he'd slipped back into bad habits last Saturday. We were more effective when we switched to 4-4-2 so let's start with that formation. I'll be either listening or watching on SAFSEE but as I'm back in London I'll not be accompanied by any of the faithful. Maybe it's the sunshine but I'm in a buoyant mood and I fancy us to win 2-1.

I got the audio on just before kick-off and immediately heard that Leadbitter was on for the suspended Dobson and Graham for Grigg; both of which were changes for the better in my view. A Bailey Wright header went close to putting us ahead when it came back off the bar and it sounded like a bright start for us. A few minutes later in Oxford's first attack Burge was caught in two minds again but mercifully the ball bounced out of danger. I hope he's not going to make a habit of doing that but there's an ominous trend developing. We'd dominated the opening quarter of an hour but as we hadn't managed a goal I hoped it wouldn't be a repeat of the last two games. In the twentieth minute Maguire had a free-kick come back off their wall and his follow-up shot was cleared as we continued to have much the better of it. Power was booked shortly afterwards for too much verbal by the sound of it. Taylor had a decent shot for Oxford but Willis blocked it well and very soon they won the first corner of the match, which ended in a free-kick to us. Commentators Barnes and Benno said that the game was there for the taking but could we take it? There was a long delay while Clare went down injured but he managed to recover. As half-time approached everything had gone a bit sleepy and the lack of a crowd of course didn't help. Oxford were definitely getting into it more but we won our first corner and Wright scooped an effort wide. Burge made a good save from Henry in the dying minutes and things had suddenly livened up with centre back Atkinson being allowed to push forward rather too much. Not surprisingly there were five minutes of stoppage-time and we won a free-kick in a great spot but Maguire's effort failed to reach the target. We continued to battle away up their end but it remained goalless at the break.

There were no changes as we kicked off again. I was pleased to hear that some fans were seeing the game for free by standing on top of a van outside the end that doesn't have a stand. I was even more pleased a minute or so into the half when O'Nien slotted the ball into the bottom left corner to put us ahead. I hoped we'd continue to press and take advantage of Oxford having to push up themselves. With the sun streaming through the window I foolishly allowed myself a few visons of a comfortable win. Back to reality O'Brien put in an effort that just cleared the post. A short while later it sounded like we were going to score again when O'Nien went on a mazy run and the ball just eluded O'Brien in the box. A second goal didn't seem to be far off aswe continued to press with O'Nien being torturer in chief. A very nice torturer though. Oxford made a double switch on the hour and unusually for us we also made a change around the same time and I was delighted to hear that it was Scowen a.k.a. The Rat coming on, for the injured Power. Oxford won their first corner of the half when a Brannagan effort was deflected and it soon led to a second but we cleared the danger. Gooch had been warming up but it was Wyke who came on for Graham with twenty minutes to go. We put together a great move involving O'Nien and Maguire but when the ball was crossed in front of goal we had nobody there to finish it off. We combined well again and Scowen had a shot on target but straight into goalie Eastwood's hands. Gooch came on with twelve minutes to go, replacing O'Brien. Sykes made it clear Oxford were still very much in the game when his effort trickled past our post. I was looking at the clock and feeling nervous but I needn't have worried. Gooch got the ball and kept going, going, going before slotting it home to put us 2-0 up and surely put the game to bed. Sounded like a very good substitution. We kept the pressure up and a third didn't seem out of the question especially when six minutes of stoppage-time were announced for some reason. I was more than happy with 2-0 when the whistle went.

This was a great result against one of our main rivals. We dominated the match and managed to capitalise on enough chances to win it. Bring on Peterborough.


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