Sticking to the knitting

Strange games happen in a season, and its not really possible to draw any conclusions from the Stevenage game in the context of the rest of the season. What is a slight concern is that Jim Smith‘s decision making has become foggier. He seems to have been genuinely spooked by the Gravesend result and seems to be looking for a new winning formula at a time when we need to hold firm.

Against Tamworth he dropped Pettefer and we lost dynamism in the middle of the park, today, he moved Andy Burgess upfront and Barry Quinn into midfield. But this simply served to expose our otherwise miserly defence.

He’s clearly concerned about the midfield, and has said that he’ll look to strengthen in the transfer window. I have reservations about both Hargreaves, who lacks control, and Hutchinson, who lacks consistency. But both have shown to be more than capable in this division. My belief is that its the lack of Brevett and inconsistency of Anaclet to supply balls into the box that is putting unnecessary pressure on the midfield and arresting Burgess‘ creativity.

However, whilst Smith may be right to say that he wants to strengthen in this department; there is still too much quality in the squad to mess around with the system that was working so well earlier in the season.

The run up to January is hard enough; eight away games and just four home games between October 3rd and Boxing day. This is as big a factor in the our current form as anything. We need to hold firm until January. There’s opportunity to put clear space between us and the rest in March when we play six home games and just three away. In fact, this is when the title is likely to be decided; as we play both Dagenham and Burton before the month is out.

With the fixtures against us, we may concede the lead before the New Year but the job between now and January has to be to stick to what we know and pick up the points where we can.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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