Yellows 2 Mansfield 0

In the dead of the night, Andy Burgess sits in his kitchen cupping hot milk and popping sleeping pills. His eyes, like saucers, his skin, sallow and pale.

“Curse my blessed talents” hisses Burgess as he sprays a melon from the fruit basket, out the window, and sixty yards to a cat screeching on a distant fence. “When will is ever end?”

How much does Andy Burgess hate playing football? He spends an unnatural amount of time goading Oxford, and then when he gets a chance to ram it down our throats he slouches around like a man who just wants someone to put in a leg breaker and relieve him from his prison of a professional football career. It’s not the first time either.

Any team that contains Andy Burgess, or a less effectual version of Jamie Slabber (Rob Duffy), hardly tests our credentials as play-off contenders, but the decisive win against Mansfield highlighted the winning formula we’ve been looking for.

It’s simple; control the opening stages with a set-up that accentuates power and strength, as the game progresses introduce creativity to exploit the opposition’s tiredness.

The solution is not pretty, but it’s effective. One characteristic we’ve never seemed to lose is the ability to control a game defensively. Individual mistakes have been made (Ryan Clarke against Tamworth), and we’ve lacked inventiveness, but in the main we’ve been defensively very tight – only conceding more than 1 goal on six occasions all season. Some will look at the goal count and point to that as a concern. It is, of course, we could all do with an easier ride, but the defensive record is a virtue that it frequently underplayed. We can go into the play-offs fearing nobody in this department.

We worry that we’re not scoring goals; but haven’t conceded in six hours. For me, three one-nil wins during the play-offs will do me, thanks very much.

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Oxblogger

Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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