The end of season’s best hackers table has been released and it turns out that Oxford are the third dirtiest team in the division. So proud. The club have kicked their way to seventy yellow and three red cards this season, which has only been bettered by Northampton Town and Charlton Athletic. Bookie monster, Alex Gorrin was seventh.
KRob has paid tribute to Instagram influencer, Nico Jones, as he leaves the club. ”It’s not the end of the road for him in his career. I think he feels going out playing men’s football and being released is better for him and we felt it was as well.” There’s nothing like a bit of redundancy to make you a man. No doubt, he’ll soon be gracing the greatest theatres of football that the Conference South has to offer.
“Una paloma blancaaaaa” KRob is thinking of his summer holibobs with the lads. Pre-season is up in the air because of the pandemic, but he’s hoping to line up a ‘foreign giant’ to play during the summer, which we can only assume is Gérard Depardieu. “We want to be creative with the pre-season, we want to be better than ever before.” he said, better even than our previous best start of two wins in eight.
Tuesday 1 June 2021
The Sunderland Echo have been trying to come up with ways to show that Permier League Sunderland probably won the division after all. They’ve compared how the League 1 table finished to how it was predicted to finish, Oxford were predicted to finish 5th, but finished 6th.
Rob Atkinson has been named in the PFA League 1 Team of the Year. The team is a veritable who’s that? of players you’ve only vaguely heard about. Atkinson is understandably chuffed; “It’s nice to win awards, quite humbling, and I am very proud to accept it but the goal for all of us was promotion and we will come back looking to go one better and hopefully achieve that next time around.” said the club’s communications team playing with their new Quote-o-matic app.
I was in the sixth form in the summer of 1990; A Levels were coming to an end, a new world of freedom and opportunity was opening up. I was working in a video rental shop and earning more money than I could ever have imagined – £4 an hour tax free. I could afford to go to the pub and still buy a pizza on the way home. I once bought four albums on cassette in a single shopping trip.
I’d watched the group games of Italia 90 at home with my mum and dad, which had been the normal way of watching football on TV for as long as I could remember. With Oxford United alumni, Mark Wright, heading home the winner against Egypt in the final group game, England limped through to the second round to face Belgium on the same night as the first post-A Level party of the season.
The party was at Ian’s house; the game wasn’t planned as a centrepiece, but we naturally congregated around the TV. I thought it would be funny to create a ticker tape welcome to the England team as they entered the field. As the tense tussle progressed deep into extra-time, the drink flowed everywhere. With penalties looming, David Platt span to volley home Paul Gasgoigne’s floated back-post free-kick for the winner and the whole place went bananas.
Rob, the school’s head boy, jumped up, a slosh of lager coming out of his can. The ticker tape and beer mix had turned the wooden floor into an ice rink and with no traction underfoot, he slipped, hitting his head on the corner of the TV, he sprang to his feet with a big smile on his face. The whistle went and the party started in earnest; we danced late into the night to the acid house tunes that had replaced Leonard Cohen and The Cure on the sixth form ghettoblaster. The following morning the ticker tape had dried like concrete to the floor, but we were long gone by the time the host was trying to chip it off the floor before his mum got home.
Suddenly, we were in a perfect storm of national fervour, newly found freedom and a favourable World Cup draw. Parties that coincided with England games had added kudos. With each game more girls seemed interested in our knowledge of Tony Dorigo and Steve Hodge; there were pretty ones, cool worldly ones and some that didn’t even play the violin.
The semi-final against West Germany was at James’ house; he was cool, arty, laid back, unassuming and good looking; everyone liked him and everyone was invited. His parents were bohemian artists and had no issue with the entire school descending on the house, they probably weren’t aware of the game. The place shook violently with expectation.
Beyond the historical record, I don’t know what happened in between, my next clear memory was of four of us alone in an empty village pub down the road sitting ashen faced as the colour of the world drained away. England were out. What happened to the party? Did everyone just leave when Chris Waddle skied his penalty? I just don’t know, it was like a light had been switched off.
We met up again for the 3rd place play-off at Pete’s house, ornaments had been removed from the front room in anticipation of a raucous night, but the magic had gone. We watched solemnly, hoping to recreate something of the previous nights. One girl came, Ian’s new girlfriend, a kind of man-of-the-match trophy for the performances of the eleven days since the Belgium win. She sat bored as he pawed away at her, they’d split up within a week.
If Tuesday’s loss to Blackpool was the dispiriting defeat to West Germany, then last night’s second leg was the third place play-off against Italy. An administrative necessity; a game that never was. Some fantasised about a record breaking comeback and Matty Taylor’s opening goal momentarily suggested it could happen, but it had been clear since Tuesday who was the more deserving team.
It’s hard to know whether we played better or if Blackpool were a bit more lax with their three goal cushion. We battled well and showed admirable spirit to stay in the game and salvage a draw. The two goals immediately after Taylor’s had me fearing the worst, there was a long way to go in front of a partisan crowd and the quality of the goals screamed for us to surrender, but we didn’t and that’s to be applauded.
We stood fast and at least put on a show, but in many ways we ended the season pretty much where we started. We end as second top goalscorers in the league, but with the eighth best defence, we’ve won once against the top nine. Perhaps as significant is the fact we’ve drawn fewer games than anyone in the top half of the table.
We do the exciting bits really well, perhaps as well as any Oxford team since the eighties; we score goals and win games, but when we need to shut up shop and take a point, that’s where we’re lacking. It was evident at Lincoln on the opening day and it was evident last night. The better teams – and Blackpool is one – don’t give away defeats cheaply or chase wins unnecessarily. Our ability to concede within minutes of scoring last night showed the lack of composure, even our more senior professionals – James Henry and Matty Taylor – had moments where they seemed to lose control, which could have been red cards.
I remember the feeling of the 1990 semi-final penalty shoot out, and the re-run at Euro 96. In those two tournaments Germany scored ten consecutive penalties and never looked like they’d miss. They were composed and calm, never losing sight of the ultimate objective; nobody tried to break the net, let alone clear the stand Waddle-like.
This lack of leadership and the composure that comes with it has been a lingering factor all season. When we’re free and on the front foot, playing teams who are technically inferior, we’re brilliant to watch, we want to score goals and entertain, but when we need to take a breath against the better teams, who is making that call?
We’ve certainly progressed from where we were; earlier in the season we’d never see the back four moving the ball around taking the sting out of the game, that’s been more evident in the last few weeks. Perhaps we’ll see this accelerate next season as players like Rob Atkinson and Elliott Moore gain more experience and confidence, but I still feel there’s an argument for bringing in a couple of experienced players to be around the squad who can come in and influence the mindset of the team when it’s under pressure.
Let’s not be too hard on ourselves. I’m not disappointed, this season was about getting through, the fact we’ve had so many great moments is a bonus. We’ve played more league games than any other team in the division over the last two seasons and had virtually no break. I hadn’t contemplated a trip to Wembley or Championship football and, in fact, feared a little what it might do to us – another crushing defeat or a season battling relegation. Each step forward seemed like another step towards a poison chalice, although that didn’t make it less enticing.
In truth, I’m a little relieved it’s over and that we can have another go in a league we know we can compete and develop in. It finally gives everyone a chance to rest, physically and mentally, and to prepare properly for the new season; which, hopefully, will be a little bit more normal and maybe a little bit more successful; we’re very close and that’s all we need.
In some ways the whole purpose of our existence is to leave things behind; for some, it may be by having children, for others; ideas and memories. In many ways, a football club is the product of its past; a vessel for collecting memories sustained through their re-telling from one generation to the next. It manifests itself in our matchday routines, our symbolic artefacts of shirts and scarves, and our embellished stories of away trips and famous wins.
Without being fed a steady stream of new memories, the club would eventually fade away to meaninglessness. We never fully lost the connection, but it has withered over the last year. Last night felt like we were picking up a dropped thread; resuming that interrupted flow.
The game against Blackpool was intended as a great re-connection of the club to its fans. When the pandemic first hit, we fantasised about this day as an instant return to normalcy, as if the virus would surrender and its damage be instantly repaired. Sadly, pandemics follow their own path; there would never be an overnight return to how it was, it was always going to be gradual and imprecise and maybe never fully complete.
I arrived at the ground, passing signs for the vaccination centre, and saw several familiar faces making their way to the stadium. The crowd, stripped of the day trippers and casuals that dilute the regular faces, was both reassuringly familiar and strangely intense, there was simply nobody I didn’t recognise. It was like a sitcom Christmas special that had no extras and too much budget for guest cameos.
With the attendance plan meticulously organised to maximise the crowd, the atmosphere was curious. The aesthetic reminded me of populating a Subbuteo grandstand with a pack of 5 figurines, it was the maximum crowd possible, but regimentally inauthentic.
Normally for home games, there’s a reassuring hum of routine, but instead there was a joyous novelty like it was an away game. Without opposition fans, and with the sunshine, benign partisanship and everyone spread out, it felt like a bucolic pre-season friendly.
Underpinning all this was the purpose of the game itself, in many ways the play-off was hidden from sight. We were happy to be back at the ground and attending a game, there was little space for any big game angst.
Despite a bright start and an early chance for Mark Sykes, Blackpool altogether looked more prepared for the actual challenge of fighting for promotion. For them, the result meant more than the occasion.
Nothing was better illustrated than Luke Garbutt. I saw him once at Chieveley Service Station waiting to be picked up for our trip to Bristol Rovers when he was on loan to us from Everton. He was slim, good looking and well groomed; standing outside a West Cornwall Pasty Company concession, he reminded me of an estate agent who lived with his mum and spent all his disposable income on his car, its insurance and clothes. He still looked like that at Ipswich last season, but now at Blackpool he looks like he sustains himself spearfishing salmon on the Yukon using a canoe that he’s hand whittled. His beard is full, his hair is long, unkempt, and held back with an elastic band. He looks about a stone of muscle heavier. It’s like he’s decided it’s time to knuckle down and make something of his life.
As we toiled to get a foothold, their first goal was greeted with an eerie silence. I waited for the delayed distant cheer of the away following, but it was if the goal had been disallowed. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t register as a problem, deep down, I didn’t think it’d been given. It wasn’t until the second goal that I snapped out of it and realised the prospect of promotion, the whole reason for being there, was rapidly slipping away.
The opening goal resulted from a howling error from Josh Ruffels, and the second from a raid down his left flank which he seemed happy to watch admiringly from afar. Apparently he’s destined for the Championship next season, but he looked lightweight compared to Garbutt. After the game, Steve Kinniburgh pointed out that he’s nearly 28, a senior professional even though he still looks like a clean-cut prospect. The whole team does; neat, tidy and talented, like they’re trapped in a bubble where people never grow up.
All over the field Blackpool had the physical maturity we’re missing; Ellis Simms was mobile and powerful up front, making Elliot Moore look like he needed to grow a bit. They were organised too, a single unit; during lulls in the crowd you could hear the bench barking for them to ‘hold’ or ‘move’ and they did as a disciplined, singular whole. We could neither go through nor find a way around. Brandon Barker had moments early on and Sykes found his way through the cracks, but otherwise we were constantly out muscled and manoeuvred, barely able to land a glove on them. It reminded me of Rotherham last year when we were strong-armed to a comprehensive defeat before half time. This doesn’t belittle Blackpool’s ability; they look far more equipped for the challenge than we do.
Before the game, we were billed as the division’s entertainers and Blackpool as a dour defensive unit. While we have a lot of fun playing against the lower sides; it was pretty obvious which approach is more effective to achieve the long term goal. We entertain, they progress.
There’s still a second leg of course; let’s not give up too soon, but the result reminded us that as far as we’ve come under Karl Robinson, we’re at a point where we need to make some tough decisions about leadership, strength, organisation and pragmatism. If we want to compete at the top of this level or above, we may need to sacrifice a bit of style to find a bit more substance.
Being critical feels desperately unfair in so many ways; what the team have achieved is as remarkable as the way they’ve achieved it. In a grim year, they’ve provided plenty of highs, and for that we should be grateful. They don’t need to explain or dwell on what went wrong, we just got found out; a reminder that against the eight other teams in the top nine, we’ve now won just once in eighteen league, cup and play-off attempts.
Last night’s game was a much welcome re-connection, even if it wasn’t the party we envisaged, it was a step in the right direction and for that we should be content. Maybe Friday will bring a miracle, and it will all be forgotten, but more likely it won’t. If a football club is a vessel for memories, perhaps what we’ll draw from the result is the lessons we need to learn in the future.
A blistering 4-0 win over Flimsy Boyd Jasselblank’s Burton Albion set up an unlikely opportunity for Oxford to make the play-offs on Sunday. Everything depended on Portsmouth’s game against Accrington. Over at Fratton Park, there was a proper bumpy Pompey pumping as Stanley won 1-0. The result meant Oxford snatched the last play-offs place and will play Blackpool next week.
It’s Saturday and you’re settling down for an afternoon with Jeff Stelling, who’s about to take you through the day’s action. Except this weekend’s fixtures only feature Oxford United and our correspondents are dotted around the country and throughout time. Sit back and enjoy an afternoon of Oxford United goals from the first minute to the last.
Jeff Stelling: ‘Welcome to The Manor, Highbury, Griffin Park, The Kassam Stadium, White Hart Lane, The Madjeski Stadium, Kenilworth Road, Stamford Bridge, Wembley, The County Ground, Ninian Park, Broadfield Stadium, Nene Park, Maine Road, Brisbane Road, Fratton Park, Adams Park, The New Den, Field Mill, Sincil Bank, Meadow Lane, Sixfields, Old Wembley, Villa Park, Prenton Park, The Memorial Ground, Roots Hall, Old Trafford, The Pirelli Stadium, Brunton Park and The New York Stadium, Rotheram. We’re looking forward to an afternoon of cup wins, promotions, relegations, giant killings, memorable goals and milestone moments. How do you feel it’s going to go today Paul Merson?’
Merse ‘Well Jeff, y’know…’
Hold that thought Merse, we head straight over to The Manor in 1999. An early goal for Oxford United…
1st minute: Jamie Lambert, Colchester United, 1999
Oh, what a start for Oxford United at The Manor against Colchester United. Jamie Lambert has put the ball in the back of the net after just 20 seconds. By my watch, that’s the fastest goal in Oxford United history. Mickey Lewis’ first league game in charge, what a way to stake a claim for the top job.
2nd minute: Steve Basham, Arsenal, 2003
And now we have a major shock on our hands at Highbury. This afternoon has gone off with a bang; Steve Basham has just wriggled free to give Oxford United the lead against Premier League leaders Arsenal in the FA Cup. The massed ranks of Oxford fans at the Clock End have gone wild. No, wait, it’s been flagged for offside. I’m not sure, that looked very tight.
3rd minute: Joey Beauchamp, Chelsea, 1994
This one counts, back at The Manor in 1994, Joey Beauchamp has bundled through the Chelsea defence and slotted home past the onrushing Chelsea keeper Dimitri Kharine to put Oxford 1-0 up. The London Road are going wild, is a shock on the cards in this FA Cup tie?
4th minute: Kevin Brock, Leeds United, 1983
Oh, yes. And now Kevin Brock has just given Oxford the lead in their League Cup second leg tie against Leeds United at The Manor. Mick Vinter controlled the throw-in just inside the box, knocking it back to the onrushing Brock who slammed it home in front of the London Road. Oxford lead 1-0 on the night, 2-1 on aggregate.
5th minute: Liam Sercombe, Brentford, 2015
Meanwhile, over in the capital, Oxford have started off like a train at Griffin Park in the League Cup in 2015. Liam Sercombe has just put the visitors in front, a really well worked goal with Sercombe driving the ball into the bottom right hand corner. They look really up for this tonight. 1-0.
6th minute: David Leworthy, Tottenham Hotspur, 1986
It’s like an ice-rink at The Manor in 1986 where Tottenham are the visitors for this FA Cup Third Round tie. But, Kevin Brock has just crossed for David Leworthy to head home the opening goal past Ray Clemence. Oxford lead 1-0.
7th minute: Rob Folland, Reading, 1999
OOOOOh, great goal at the Madjeski Stadium. Young Welsh full-back Rob Folland has cut inside and fired home to give Oxford the unlikeliest of leads in their first ever visit to the Madjeski. They’re looking right at home in the derby.
8th minute: Nick Cusack, Newcastle United, 1992
Oxford are in dreamland; just eight minutes gone and Nick Cusack has poked home Joey Beauchamp’s cross to put them 2-0 at The Manor. Great work from Cusack, but that was all about Beauchamp, silky skills and a pinpoint cross.
9th minute: Mike Ford, Dorchester Town, 1995
Opening goal at The Manor in the FA Cup where non-league Dorchester Town have travelled up the A34 to face their illustrious league opponents. Mike Ford headed home the rebound from Joey Beauchamp’s cross. Despite having former-Oxford keeper Ken Veysey in goal, Dorchester are looking really shaky here, this could be a long day for the minnows.
10th minute: Phil Edwards, Luton Town, 2017
Goal at Kenilworth Road in the semi-final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy now. Oxford United have been under a bit of pressure in this one, but some great work from Liam Sercombe saw the ball fall to loanee Phil Edwards who was sitting on the floor from an earlier challenge and has swept the ball home. Are Oxford heading to Wembley for the second year in a row?
11th minute: Peter Rhodes-Brown, Chelsea, 1986
No time to answer that, over to West London now where there’s been a bit of a shock on the cards in the 1st Division at Stamford Bridge. Oxford United, without an away win all season are leading Chelsea who had been hoping to go top. And to really rub it in, the goal is from former Chelsea winger, Peter Rhodes-Brown.
12th minute: James Constable, Swindon Town, 2011
Is history being written at The County Ground? Maybe. James Constable has just darted in at the near post to put Oxford 1-0 up against Swindon Town. Swindon boss Paolo DiCanio claims Constable is a Swindon fan, I think we know the truth now.
13th minute: Tony Jones, Blackburn Rovers, 1964
Oh I say, now Oxford United have taken the lead against Blackburn Rovers in the fifth round of the FA Cup at the Manor in 1964. Over 20,000 jolly good fellows have packed into the little ground in Headington. It looks like we have a major shock on the cards.
14th minute: Eric Sabin, Leyton Orient, 2006
Lifeline at The Kassam Stadium! Oxford United need to beat Leyton Orient to retain their League status. Striker Eric Sabin has just got on the end of Andy Burgess’ free-kick to give the hosts the lead. The atmosphere in the stadium wild. Orient need to win to go up, so there’s a long way to go on this. But, that’s the early goal Jim Smith’s were looking for to settle the nerves.
15th minute: Alex Dyer, Leeds United, 1994
And now Oxford have taken the lead against Leeds United in the FA Cup. Attacking down the slope towards the London Road, Joey Beauchamp fed Jim Magilton down the right who fired in a low cross to Alex Dyer arriving in the middle. 1-0 Oxford.
16th minute: Jamie Cook, Luton Town, 2009
What. Have. I. Just. Seen? Goal of the season? Goal of the century? Jamie Cook just scored from 25 yards against Luton Town in this battle of the Conference giants. The game was delayed because of crowd congestion trying to get nearly 10,000 fans into the stadium. That goal was worth the entrance fee alone.
17th minute: Kevin Brock, Oldham Athletic, 1985
Oxford are putting on a show at The Manor in front of the Match of the Day cameras now, Mark Jones has just broken down the left flank crossing deep for Kevin Brock to slot home a fine opening goal. The champions-elect are on the goal trail once again.
18th minute: Oli Johnson, Swindon Town, 2012
Oh. My. Word. Injury ravaged Oxford United have had their star striker sent-off against the League leaders, who are unbeaten in ten games, they’ve taken the lead with Asa Hall scoring from close range, now two minutes later, they’re two up from young loanee Oli Johnson. Oxford are racing towards a famous derby double.
19th minute: Neil Whatmore, Newcastle United, 1983
1-0 to Oxford at The Manor in 1983, and it’s nothing more than they deserve. Star-studded Newcastle United featuring Kevin Keegan, Peter Beardsley, Chris Waddle and Terry McDermott are being overwhelmed here. Oxford should already be two-up already, but the breakthrough has come from the biggest name of the lot; striker Neil Whatmore.
20th minute: James Constable, York City, 2010
Oh, magnificent, Oxford United have started this play-off final at Wembley like a train, Matt Green gave them the lead in the 15th minute, now James Constable has doubled their advantage, blasting it in from twelve yards. 2-0, difficult to see York coming back from this, they look shellshocked.
21st minute: Matt Murphy, Everton, 1999
Everton looking at sixes and sevens in the League Cup and Matt Murphy has capitalised on their lax defending by heading in for the lead. The ball hit the net and trickled along the goal line before being awarded, but they all count.
22nd minute: Trevor Hebberd, Luton Town, 1987
Big goal at Kenilworth Road. Oxford needing a result here to secure another season in Division 1 and the breakthrough has come from Trevor Hebberd. Still a long way to go but they’ve got something to work with.
23rd minute: Matt Green, Bristol Rovers, 2010
What a way to announce yourself back as a League team. It’s the first game back from the Conference and Matt Green has just doubled Oxford’s lead after Simon Heslop’s thunderbolt. Oxford are right in the mood here, it could be a cricket score by the time we’ve finished.
24th minute: Mike Ford, Swindon Town, 1997
Are Oxford about to break their 24 year hoodoo at The County Ground? Great work by Nigel Jemson on the flank and an inviting cross onto the back post and there’s Mike Ford to nod home. He nearly collided with the post there, but I don’t think he cares. Great start for Oxford.
25th minute: Rob Hall, Sunderland, 2019
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant from Rob Hall. Sunderland hit the post in this League Cup tie, Oxford react with a blistering counterattack, the ball breaks loose to Rob hall who arrows it into the back of the net. 1-0.
26th minute: Nigel Jemson, Barnsley, 1997
They may be heading for the Premier League, but Barnsley look like they’ve been over-doing the celebrations a bit. Just 26 minutes gone and Oxford are two up with a brave header from Nigel Jemson. Barnsley look all at sea here, I don’t think that’s the end of the goals today.
27th minute: Yemi Odubade, Exeter City, 2007
Yemi Odubade has put Oxford United a goal up at the Kassam in the Conference semi-final play-off. You have to say, it’s against the run of play, but with an away goal in the bag from the first leg, the yellows are fully in charge in this one.
28th minute: Paul Moody, Cardiff City, 1994
Goal! I can’t quite believe what I’ve just seen, 28 minutes gone at Ninian Park and Paul Moody, Oxford’s big lumbering striker has danced his way past five defenders, running half the length of the field to given Oxford the lead. It was like watching Maradona in ’86, great movement from big man.
29th minute: James Constable, Rushden & Diamonds, 2010
Breakthrough goal at Nene Park now in the Conference semi-final first leg and who else but James Constable? Great work in the box, firing home on the turn. That’s the away goal they wanted. 1-0 Oxford.
30th minute: Nigel Jemson, Manchester City, 1996
Just half-an-hour gone and it’s already 2-2 at Maine Road after Nigel Jemson’s looping header dropped in just under the crossbar. Manager-less Manchester City look all over the shop. Lovely goal from the Us.
31st minute: Wes Thomas, Chesterfield, 2016
Great moment, Oxford have announced their return to League 1 after a fifteen year absence with a goal from new signing Wes Thomas who’s just tapped home Alex MacDonalds shot.
32nd minute: Andy Thomas, Newcastle United, 1983
Oxford are making second placed Newcastle look second rate here at The Manor in the Milk Cup. Andy Thomas made the first and now he’s scored the second. They don’t look like they’re finished yet.
33rd minute: John Lundstram, Leyton Orient, 2015
Big deflection, but they all count. It’s been billed as a bit of a revenge mission for what happened in 2006, and Oxford are bang on track as John Lundstram scores his first goal for the club to extend their lead. 2-0 to Oxford and just half-an-hour gone.
34th minute: Dean Saunders, Luton Town, 1988
Something’s going on at Kenilworth Road, just 34 minutes gone and Dean Saunders has pulled one back from the spot to make it 1-2. Both sides seem to be struggling with Luton’s plastic pitch, this could end up like a basketball score.
35th minute: Gary Briggs, Manchester United, 1988
Four years ago Oxford dumped Manchester United out of the Milk Cup, now they’re at it again. Gary Briggs has just launched himself through the United defence to connect with John Dreyer’s cross and head Oxford two-up. Fantastic diving header from Briggs, the real United are in the boss seat now.
36th minute: Tommy Caton, Liverpool, 1987
Over at The Manor in 1987 Tommy Caton has equalised for Oxford against champions Liverpool. Despite two great saves from Bruce Grobelaar, there was nothing he could do to prevent Caton forcing it home from two yards. Can Oxford pick up their first win over the Merseyside giants?
37th minute: John Aldridge, Arsenal, 1984
Mixed news from The Manor in 1985. Striker, John Aldridge has just equalised for Oxford United against Arsenal in the Milk Cup. He headed home George Lawrence’s fine cross but was clattered by Pat Jennings. The stretcher is coming on, great goal by Aldridge, but at what price?
38th minute: Alfie Potter, Portsmouth, 2013
We leave The Manor as we’re getting news of an important goal for Oxford United at Fratton Park in 2013. Having gone a goal down, they equalised with Dean Smalley and have now taken the lead with a well taken goal from Alfie Potter latching onto Sean Rigg’s cross.
39th minute: Chris Maguire, Crawley Town, 2016
Equaliser at Crawley Town in 2016, good work down the right from Alex MacDonald, with Chris Maguire driving home from just inside the box. What’s the significance? We don’t know, this is much harder than it looks.
40th minute: Gary Briggs, Leeds United, 1984
BRIGGS! Oxford are on the comeback trail against Leeds United at The Manor. Two down, Gary Briggs connected with a fine Kevin Brock corner to make it 2-1. This team has goals in them, that’s really put Oxford on the front foot.
41st minute: David Rush, Wycombe Wanderers, 1996
Big breakthrough at Adams Park, Oxford are on quite a charge at the moment and David Rush has just connected with a deep cross from Les Robinson to open the scoring against Wycombe Wanderers. Big moment in breaking their duck against Wycombe, bigger moment in their promotion chase.
42nd minute: Billy Hamilton, Arsenal, 1984
Hold on a minute, let’s cross back to 1984. Oxford are down to ten men following John Aldridge’s injury for their first goal against Arsenal in the Milk Cup. And now they’ve done the unthinkable and taken the lead. The Manor is rocking after Northern Ireland international Billy Hamilton connected with Dave Langan’s perfect cross.
43rd minute: Kemar Roofe, Millwall, 2016
With half-time around the grounds and throughout time looming, things are looking rosey at the New Den for the JPT semi-final first leg. Kemar Roofe has just nodded home his second goal latching onto John Lundstram’s audacious drive which cannoned off the underside of the crossbar. That’s 2-0 and you’ve got to say Oxford have one foot in the final.
44th minute: Joey Beauchamp, Manchester City, 1998
Football’s a rollercoaster isn’t it? Oxford have already lost Stuart Massey to what looks like a bad injury, then on the stroke of half time a goal forged in the furnace of the Oxford United academy; Jamie Cook forced the defender into a mistake, the ball was picked up by Paul Powell who played it to Kevin Francis to square for Joey Beauchamp for the opening goal. No sugar in my tea, mum, that’s sweet enough.
45th minute: James Constable, Mansfield Town, 2013
Major goal at Mansfield in 2013. Moments after Mansfield Town had equalised James Constable latched onto Ryan Williams’ cross with the deftest touch to steer the ball into the far corner off the post. 2-1 Oxford, but more importantly, that’s Constable’s 100th goal for the club. What a milestone to reach.
And that’s half-time. A first half full of action and drama. Oxford United will go in very satisfied with their first forty-five minutes’ work. Managers Chris Wilder, Mickey Lewis, Jim Smith, Maurice Evans, Denis Smith, Michael Appleton and Karl Robinson will be looking for more of the same in the second half.
Paul Merson, you were going to say something before the game, any thoughts on how Oxford might approach the second half?
46th minute: Kane Hemmings, Newcastle United, 2017
Sorry Merse, but we’ve got a goal at The Kassam already in the FA Cup against Newcastle United. Chris Maguire collected the ball on the right, crossed it to Chey Dunkley on the back post and Kane Hemmings was on hand to prod home the knockdown from close range. 1-0 Oxford and another cup giant killing is on the cards.
47th minute: John Durnin, Swindon Town, 1992
It’s a goalfest in the derby at the Manor, John Durnin has just got on the end of Chris Allen’s cross to make it 3-2. Big goal for Johnny Lager.
48th minute: Jamie Mackie, Lincoln City, 2019
Oxford cruising now at Sincil Bank as Jamie Mackie adds a third goal. A deft finish from the veteran striker, it’s like his foot was a sand wedge. With former manager and new Lincoln boss Michael Appleton watching on, everything they touch is turning to goals this afternoon.
Brilliant stuff from Joey Beauchamp at The County Ground, he’s just latched onto a Nigel Jemson header and volleyed it past the keeper for the opening goal.
50th minute: Alfie Potter, Northampton Town, 2014
I don’t quite know how he’s done it, but that one feels really sweet. Oxford are 2-1 up against Chris Wilder’s Northampton Town, Alfie Potter has just weaved his way into the box and lobbed the ‘keeper from the tightest possible angle. What a way to stick it to your former boss.
52nd minute: Ray Houghton, Queens Park Rangers, 1986
Wonderful stuff now at Wembley, Oxford United in dreamland with a brilliantly worked goal that’s put them 2-0 up in the Milk Cup. Trevor Hebberd feeding Ray Houghton, beating the QPR offside trap to fire home. A goal to grace any final, we might want to prepare the yellow and blue ribbons now.
53rd minute: Andy Whing, Rochdale, 2013
Stop the count, stop the steal, I’ve seen it all now. It’s the last home game of the season and midfielder Andy Whing has just scored the goal of the season a bicycle kick from four yards out. He looks as shocked as everyone else.
54th minute: Martin Aldridge, Swindon Town, 1996
But, no time to dwell as we head back to The Manor where Martin Aldridge has just punished some poor goalkeeping to make it 2-0 against their deadly rivals.
55th minute: Jack Midson, Yeovil Town, 2009
They’ve looked the better team from the off and now they’ve made the breakthrough. Lovely through ball from Adam Murray and Jack Midson nips in between the ponderous Yeovil defence to lob the keeper. 1-0 and we have a giankilling on our hands.
56th minute: John Aldridge, Aston Villa, 1986
Penalty at Villa Park! Huge moment in this Milk Cup Semi-Final, just sixty seconds after Simon Stainrod had given Villa the lead, John Aldridge has been brought down by Alan Evans and now has a chance to equalise. Aldridge, bounces the ball on the spot as Steve Hodge does his best to put him off. And…
2-2! A massive goal in this tie, Oxford have a second away goal to take back to The Manor.
57th minute: Mark Sykes, Wycombe Wanderers, 2020
What was that? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a cross? Is it a shot? Who knows? Mark Sykes has just blasted spectacular equaliser as Wembley in the play-off final.
58th minute: John Durnin, Tranmere Rovers, 1992
Lifeline at Prenton Park, Oxford have turned their domination into goals. The ball ricochets off an Oxford player and falls to John Durnin to runs through to give Oxford the lead. Blackburn are keeping their side of the bargain at Plymouth, can Oxford make it count and stay up?
59th minute: Kemar Roofe, Swansea City, 2016
Wonderful, wonderful stuff from Oxford as Kemar Roofe puts Oxford 3-1 up against Premier League Swansea City at the Kassam. A blistering break by Chris Maguire set up Roofe finish off the move with a neat finish. We’ve got a big FA Cup giant killing on our hands here.
60th minute: Kemar Roofe, Wycombe Wanderers, 2015
Roofe, again, on his debut this time. How does that work? It’s taken him ten games to get his first, now he’s got two against Wycombe at Adams Park. It was a bit of a daisy cutter, but you’ve got to say that’s going to give the young West Brom loanee confidence.
61th minute: Chris Maguire, Swindon Town, 2016
Oh my goodness, calamitous defending from Swindon Town at the Kassam Stadium. They work the ball back to ‘keeper Lawrence Vigouroux, who tries to launch the ball downfield, but instead it canons off Oxford striker Chris Maguire in the net. What a shambles that club is. Oxford United 2 Swindon Town 0.
62nd minute: Kemar Roofe, Bristol Rovers, 2015
That’s just different class. That boy Roofe is going places. Picks up the ball from Pat Hoban’s knock down 25 yards out and smashes it into the top corner.
63rd minute: Paul Moody, Swindon Town, 1995
Equaliser at The County Ground, and it’s a bit controversial. Les Robinson delivers a fairly innocuous cross into the box which Wayne Allison tries to control. He comes together with Matt Elliott and the ball runs loose to Paul Moody to fire home. Was that a foul by Elliott? We don’t know that we care at the moment.
64th minute: Peter Leven, Port Vale, 2012
Oh, oh, OH! You don’t save those. Only Peter Leven can do that. He’s just won the ball inside his own half, looked up and lobbed the ‘keeper from sixty yards out. Forget about goal of the season, that’s a goal of a lifetime.
65th minute: Jefferson Louis, Swindon Town, 2003
I don’t know how it happened, but it happened. Oxford lead in the FA Cup derby at The Kassam. Jefferson Louis has got the slightest touch on a long Scott McNiven throw and it’s crept through a crowd of players and into the net. Did Steve Basham get a touch on the line. Who knows? But, frankly, who cares?
66th minute: David Rush, Peterborough United, 1996
The shirt is off, it’s party time at the Manor. David Rush has just latched onto a long Mike Ford ball and poked it home for four-nil. That’s the clincher and that’s promotion. And doesn’t Rush know it, he’s got the corner flag out and is waving with triumph. And why not?
68th minute: Mark Rawle, Southend United, 2003
Miracles do happen. It’s been eleven years since Oxford went home with three points from Roots Hall, but Mark Rawle’s strike may just have ended that voodoo. Who wouldn’t bet against Oxford putting together a long winning streak against The Shrimpers in the future?
69th minute: Kevin Brock, Manchester United, 1983
Majestic. Kevin Brock has silenced Old Trafford with a brilliant free-kick in the Milk Cup. Manchester United must have thought this replay was just formality after the scare at The Manor a few days ago, but they know they’re in a game now. Manchester United 0 Oxford United 1.
70th minute: Adam Chapman, Burton Albion, 2009
What a party-pooper. 7000 Burton fans packed into the Pirelli Stadium expecting to celebrate their promotion to the Football League and Adam Chapman has just curled in a wonderful free-kick into the top corner to put Oxford a goal up. Twenty minutes to go, 1-0 to Oxford and the only noise you can hear is from the Oxford fans behind the goal.
71st minute: Dave Langan, Arsenal, 1985
Oxford are at it again, we’ve got another giant killing in the offing after Irish full-back Dave Langan just drove the ball in from 30 yards through the hands of Pat Jennings. I mean, you’ve got to expect him to do better than that, but that’s 3-2 with 19 minutes to go.
72nd minute: John Aldridge, Arsenal, 1986
Relax Oxford fans, the Us are staying up. John Aldridge has made it three-nil against Arsenal in this must-win game at The Manor. Two weeks after the euphoria of Wembley, the goal pretty much secures them a second season in the top flight.
73rd minute: Rob Hall, Swindon Town, 2017
Wow, that’s just about broken the net. Rob Hall’s just picked the ball up from 30 yards out and fired a howitzer into the top corner. Oxford have turned it around here at The County Ground. Swindon 1 Oxford 2 and that’s seven in a row.
74th minute: Liam Sercombe, Carlisle United, 2016
Phone your mum and tell her the Us are going up. Liam Sercombe has just given Oxford a 2-0 lead here at Carlisle with a low drive into the bottom corner sending the thousands of Oxford fans who have made the journey north into raptures. There are hotdogs everywhere.
75th minute: Liam Sercombe, Coventry City, 2017
And again, Sercombe seems to be everywhere at the moment. After being left out of the starting line-up for the trip to Wembley, Liam Sercombe has come on and is playing like a man possessed. He’s just bundled the ball home from close range to pull a goal back for Oxford against Coventry. Coventry 2 Oxford United 1. Game on!
76th minute: Danny Hylton, Barnsley, 2016
Lovely goal, and nothing more than they deserve. For long periods Oxford have been the better team in this JPT Final, and Danny Hylton has just headed home to make to 3-2 to Barnsley. Can they force extra-time here at Wembley?
77th minute: Dean Windass, Chelsea, 1999
Now then. Oxford United are on the verge of going bust and Dean Windass has just scored from the near post with thirteen minutes to go against the aristocrats of Chelsea. Can the paupers beat the princes in the FA Cup tonight?
78th minute: Roy Clayton, Manchester United, 1972
Manchester United have brought their triple threat of Denis Law, George Best and Bobby Charlton to The Manor, but nobody thought about Roy Clayton, whose just put Oxford in front at The Manor.
79th minute: Neil Slatter, Manchester United, 1986
Nightmare start for former Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson at Manchester United here at The Manor, Neil Slatter has surely settled this making it 2-0 from close range. At this rate, Ferguson won’t last long at Old Trafford.
80th minute: Phil Edwards, Rotherham, 2017
Oxford have been absolutely magnificent against their Championship opponents in the FA Cup, and now they’ve just gone 2-1 up with Phil Edwards latching onto a Alex Macdonald cross.
81st minute: Les Phillips, Everton, 1986
There’s nothing Oxford United love more than spoiling a party. They’re at it again under the lights at The Manor, Les Phillips has just side-footed it home from just inside the box for 1-0. That’s put a massive dent in Everton’s title dreams and kept Oxford’s survival hopes alive.
82nd minute: Paul Moody, Dorchester Town, 1995
It’s a goal rush at The Manor. Paul Moody has just completed his hat-trick, blasting in Oxford’s ninth goal against Dorchester.
83rd minute: Joey Beauchamp, Blackpool, 1996
Is that goal of the day? Of this and any other day. Joey Beauchamp, hero of the London Road just collected the loose ball in midfield and sent it back from 40 yards out with interest. 1-0 Oxford, that’s a big statement in the promotion race.
84th minute Liam Kelly, Newcastle, 2020
Hang on a minute. Just when you thought it was all over, Liam Kelly has scored a brilliant free-kick to pull one back against Newcastle at The Kassam in the FA Cup. That’s got the crowd up again, I don’t think Oxford are quite finished yet.
85th minute: Marvin Johnson, Luton Town, 2017
My word, they’re flying in at the moment. That’s quite a strike from Marvin Johnson, cutting in from the left and sending a rocket into the top corner. Luton Town 2 Oxford United 3. It’s going to take a massive effort for the Hatters to pick themselves up again and prevent Oxford from heading to Wembley for the second time in two years.
It’s been a tense game at The Manor against Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup, but Nigel Jemson may have just snatched it in the dying moments prodding home Paul Moody’s knockdown from three yards. Four minutes left and Oxford are on track to knock the Premier League team out.
87th minute: Alan Kennedy (OG), Liverpool, 1985
Oxford are going to need a stroke of luck to stay in the First Division this season and they’ve just had some against the biggest team in the country. They’ve been hanging on for the whole game, but Peter Rhodes-Brown’s hopeful through ball has been put into his own net by Alan Kennedy for 2-2.
88th minute: Alfie Potter, Swindon Town, 2010
There’s been a breakthrough at The Kassam in the EFL Trophy, James Constable, who has been quiet all game, pounced on a Swindon defensive error squared the ball to the back post for Alfie Potter to slot home. Swindon can’t buy a win against their deadliest rivals.
89th minute: Todd Kane, Charlton Athletic, 2018
Brilliant stuff. Oxford United have no manager and no recognisable striker on the pitch, they’re 2-1 down as we enter the last minute. Great determination from Josh Ruffels on the flank who squares it to Todd Kane to side foot home. I don’t know if they can sneak a winner now, but they deserve it after this performance.
90th minute: Callum O’Dowda, Notts County, 2016
What might that mean come May? Alex MacDonald has just laid it off for Callum O’Dowda to drill the ball into the top left hand corner to make it Oxford United 3 Notts County 2 at Meadow Lane. A great way to start the New Year for the Yellows.
O’Dowda! Again! Is there a more fitting way of securing promotion than seeing a hometown boy weaving his way through the Wycombe defence to fire home from close range. That’s three. And that’s promotion.
92nd minute: Shandon Baptiste, West Ham United, 2019
They’ve left the best ’til last at The Kassam, Shandon Baptiste has put icing on the cake of a magnificent performance weaving through West Ham’s beleaguered defence and slotting home from the left. The gulf in class has been massive.
93rd minute: Pat Hoban, Luton Town, 2015
Yes! No! Yes! Just when you thought the drama was over. Late late equaliser at Kenilworth Road for Oxford United, after Kemar Roofe dragged Oxford back into the game two minutes ago, with the board showing three minutes of injury time, a scramble in the box saw the ball drop to Pat Hoban who scuffed at it and then prodded home at the second attempt for 2-2. Crazy scenes in the away end.
94th minute: Jamie Mackie, Bradford City, 2019
OOOOOOOOHHHHHHH! Massive, massive goal at the Kassam Stadium in the League 1 relegation battle against Bradford City. Bradford have spurned a glorious chance, completely missing an open goal. From the resultant goal kick, Josh Ruffels sent a raking ball to Gavin Whyte whose shot popped up, then Jamie Mackie came marauding through on the volley and slammed it home. Sensational scenes here.
No, wait, what’s happening now? The ref’s not allowed it. What’s going on? A Bradford penalty? Oxford are surrounding the ref pleading with him. Now he’s talking to his linesmen. And. And. It’s a goal, Oxford have snatched this at the death. What a finish.
‘Merse, it’s been such a hectic afternoon, we didn’t even get a chance to find out your thoughts about today’s action.’
‘No problem Jeff, the thing is Jeff. I just can’t see where Oxford’s goals are going to come from this afternoon. I fear for them, I really do.’
Northampton Town are Oxford’s opponents on Tuesday and manager Jon Brady has unveiled his sophisticated new strategy to get them back to being League 2’s second best team: “We want to win football matches playing to our strengths” he said scrawling maniacally on a chalkboard, underlining the words WE, WANT and STRENGTHS. Saturday’s defeat to Crewe was a blip, he said, in a season which has been pretty much blipping all the way to relegation.
Tuesday 23 March 2021
Fans have been moaning about inconsistency – beating the lower teams and losing to the better ones. Well, we’ve nailed that particular problem now we’re consistently losing to everyone. On Tuesday night it was Northampton Town. “If you’re going into the lions’ den don’t put meat in your pocket.” summarised KRob, pulling a mouldy pork pie from a coat he last wore in a family trip to Cotswold Wildlife Park.
Good Friday came a week early as Oxford beat MApp’s misfiring big guns, Lincoln City. The Imps took the lead in the fourth minute. MAppy wasn’t happy when Matty’s arm went flappy to give the ball a tappy, Fordey looked snappy to leave Lincoln feeling crappy. Matty Taylor added a second to put Oxford on the verge of the play-offs.