Yellows 0 Dorchester Town 0

Football is a series of themes and trends punctuated by moments. It is frequently analysed the other way around. An individual mistake is evidence of total hopelessness, a goal is shows how utterly brilliant everything is. This is reflected in the post-game phone-ins where the contributors are views a polarised and wholly dependent on the result of the preceding game.

Our overall trend is upwards – won 5, drawn 3, lost 2 in the last 10 (counting the Setanta Shield game with Forest Green as a draw – no good competition ever ends with winning a shield). The fact that we’re only a handful of points off the play-offs is no fluke. Yesterday’s draw with Dorchester is not evidence of us being useless. Within the game the overall trend was with us, we had more possession and territory. The fact that Dorchester occasionally pieced together a couple of passes was not proof that we were being outplayed.

Then there are the ‘moments’ – the shots, saves and goals. That’s what we struggled with yesterday. We didn’t take the chances in the first half when things were fast and loose. Once Dorchester had dug in, the midfield struggled to unlock the game and everything petered out.

A lot of responsibility is put on Adam Murray. But Murray’s impact is defined by those around him. Last season he had Jamie Hand – who couldn’t pass, but gave Murray space through his tackling. Behind him he had Foster and Quinn. Earlier in the season he was partnered by Joe Burnell.

Yesterday he had Hutchinson next to him who is frustrating because he’s all action, with almost no control. This means Murray is constantly stretching and tracking back, rarely on his feet looking up. Behind him was Willmott and Day, neither of whom have any pace meaning he’s forced back, reducing the prospect of supporting any attacks.

The draw with Dorchester is not proof that everything has gone wrong. It is indicative of our lack strength in depth, which in turn is evidence of the lack of funds. In these circumstances, we’ll have wobbles. Yesterday was a wobble, which was frustrating and may ultimately cost us our place in the second round, but there was enough evidence to suggest all is not lost for the rest of the season.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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