I’m really looking forward to this afternoon’s game and I think that we’ll get another win. Oxford have lost three out of their last five league games and if we can get an early goal, I reckon we’ll be too much for them. Peterborough and Hull are both playing away, to Fleetwood and Crewe respectively, and hopefully will drop a few points to help us along. If we win and Peterborough draw or lose, then we’ll be in second position and that will set things up nicely for Monday’s match. We could even go top...The only selection problems we have are pleasant ones as with several players coming back from injury very soon, LJ has to decide who to replace or maybe not change a successful side. Like everyone I hope to see Jones play some part in today’s match but like many I think it would be better to have him on the bench and bring him on to make an impact for the last thirty minutes or so. As usual these days I’ll be watching the match in my Sunderland bubble and the sunny weather is helping my confident mood. Match prediction: 2-0 to us.
I got the starting eleven just before I left home and both Jones and McLaughlin were starting. The bench was looking formidable and LJ knows how to use it. My fellow bubblers predicted a 3-0 and a 2-1 win. Charlton had won the early match 1-0, which wasn’t ideal.
Oxford pressed a lot in the opening stages and won the first corner of the game in the sixth minute. Wyke headed it to safety and we won our first corner in the next minute. McGeady took it low and shortish but Jones couldn’t quite connect with it. Oxford continued to look threatening as they came forward with Shodipo in particular looking handy. McLaughlin was the first player to be booked in the nineteenth minute for a foul on Hanson. The game was going from end to end at some pace and Oxford took the lead in the twenty-first minute after a swift counter-attack which was finished by a shot from Henry into the bottom-left corner from just outside the box. Sykes was yellow-carded for a foul on Power\and he should have been booked for a worse one earlier. Almost immediately Barker went in the book too for a foul on Jones. Wyke set up a great chance for Gooch but he sliced it and it went for a throw-in. We certainly weren’t playing at our best but with an hour to go there was plenty of time and, as I said, we had good options on the bench for later. Elsewhere both Hull and Peterborough were drawing 0-0. We were taking a long tome to play it out from the back and in the bubble we were shouting for them just to boot it upfield. We were awarded a free-kick in a great spot outside their box with five minutes to the break and Stevens in goal did well to deflect McGeady’s kick. That was our first real chance of the game. We were pressing well and a goal before the break would be the perfect tonic. In the dying seconds Gooch was fouled near the right angle of their box and after a bit of ebb and flow McLaughlin got a header, a weak one it has to be said, on target. There were three minutes of stoppage-time for some reason but thank God there were as we equalised after an excellent run into their box from Jones whose pin point pass was drilled in by Gooch. It was the perfect time to score and we finished the half well after not really being at the races fro most of the half. It had been a rough game and as the teams went off there appeared to be some argy-bargy in the tunnel. Our immediate rivals were still playing goalless draws.
I hoped to see Leadbitter on soonish to settle us down a bit but we’d finished the first-half the stronger of the two sides and I still thought we could win it. There were no changes as we started and even before the start referee Kettle had to come over and have a word with the coaching staff about some verbals.. Oxford started well, winning two corners on the trot but we weathered it all, though we were looking wobbly at the back. Henry was booked for a foul on McGeady and I could see Oxford going down to ten men before long. We were enjoy8ing a good period of pressure and I felt a goal coming. Around the hour-mark all sorts happened in about thirty seconds. First of all we had a penalty shout when Wyke went down and immediately Burge had to come out of his box to clear. Next thing Sykes got his second yellow and was off for a dirty foul on O’Nien in our box. Elsewhere Hull went 1-0 down to Crewe. Shodipo was still looking a menace for them and Burge was forced to save well so Oxford weren’t about to lie down by any means. We made our first change in the sixty-seventh minute bringing on Stewart for McLaughlin and it took him thirty seconds to get a great header on target. Just after that Jones hit the bar with a powerful shot and that second goal was getting ever nearer. Hull had equalised. Oxford made a triple switch with fifteen minutes to go and Shodipo was one of those to go, I was pleased to see. Maguire then replaced Jones, who’d played very well after a shaky start. We’d failed to make anything of our numerous free-kicks but with ten minutes to go we really made the most of one. We took it quickly and Gooch dribbled across their box from the right before passing it to McGeady who slammed it in to put us ahead. The Oxford coach was then red-carded but seemed to be amused by this as he went over to berate the fourth official. The security had to advise him to retire to the upper tiers. We brought on Leadbitter for McGeady. Hull and Peterborough both took the lead so we had to win. Oxford made another couple of changes and so there was no surprise when five minutes of stoppage-time were announced. The commentator started using the words ‘holding on’ and we were suddenly under a lot of pressure with Oxford winning corners. Thankfully we managed to break and when Wyke fed the on-running Power, he kept his cool and shot past Stevens to wrap the game up at 3-1.
This was another hard-won victory and just as well as both Hull and Peterborough also won. Speaking of the latter – bring them on.