Stevenage wrap – Stevenage 1 Oxford United 5

Pivotal? Ryan Taylor needed a goal to remind him he could still do it. He’s never scored loads of goals; 10 would be a decent return this season, but nobody needed him thinking that there was some sort of curse hanging over his time at the club.

The decision to allow Liam Sercombe to take the second penalty, having missed the first, was a step in the right direction in terms of shaking our spot kick voodoo. There are those who think there’s no point in practicing penalties because you can’t replicate the pressure. But, you want to get to a point where taking a penalty becomes a motor action that you don’t think about. The only way to do that is to take lots and lots of penalties to build up muscle memory. You don’t get much practice if you’re replaced on your first miss. Passing the buck around every time someone misses puts us back to square one. It also magnifies the sense of failure because the most recent plenty of each player who has a go will be a miss.

The result itself was pivotal; this period of the season could have become quite uncomfortable had we racked up a second consecutive defeat. Most of our league fixtures in November are winnable, but we’ll be disrupted by cup competitions with Braintree in the FA Cup, possibly twice, and Dagenham in the JPT. With 14 days until our next league game, we benefitted going into this period with three points.

It was a daft game, but the nature of the win was important. We haven’t scored 5 away from home in the league for 27 years. These are not normal times. There’s a certain comfort in knowing that this isn’t typical and so recent experiences of what happens to Oxford (second half of the season collapses) are not relevant references. This is quite a different team to those who’ve represented us in the recent past.

Above all, it was pivotal for the children who went on the club’s family away day. Away days are what make fans. It won’t always be like that, of course, but many will chase the dream of seeing the next one for the rest of their lives.

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