By Jon Harries
If we were lucky to win on Saturday (we were) then Tuesday night proved a game too far for the Dons. We went away to Shrewsbury as one of the in form teams in the league and confidence should have been high. We were dealt a blow before kick off when it was announced that Scott Fraser missed out through injury. Russell Martin was confident of a return to the side on Saturday for the Wizard post-match, so fingers crossed. Back to Tuesday night and within 18 minutes the Dons were 3-0 down. Sean Goss finishing off a flowing move after 4 minutes, then two penalties converted by Norburn and Main respectively. Will Grigg continued to warm up with another goal to reduce the deficit after great work by Laird.
The second half started, and Shrewsbury continued their phenomenal pressing and deservedly scored their 4th after robbing possession yet again and Goss putting the gloss on another sweeping move and putting the game out of sight.
Charlie Brown added one towards the end of the game with another poachers finish but in truth the result was never in doubt from the18th minute. Two losses in 11 is not a bad record and shows the progress under the process that’s being made and If we can lose the mindset of conceding early then we can progress further.
Special mentions to Jordan Houghton, Daniel Harvie, and the aforementioned Brown in their cameo appearances, certainly food for thought for Russ ahead of Saturday.
Oxford come into the weekend with no win in their last three, although still nicely positioned just outside the play offs with games in hand. The runners-up in last year’s Playoff final will certainly want to be there again at the end of the season and will want to stop the rot as quickly as possible, and I’m sure Robbo will make that point clear. They narrowly lost to promotion rivals Portsmouth at home on Tuesday, Harvey White with a superb headed goal just after the break in a very tight and cagey affair.
Oxford have a very settled back five Jack Stevens has made the number one spot his own, Sam Long getting rave reviews at RWB and the partnership of captain Elliott Moore and Rob Atkinson has been a solid pairing. In midfield Mark Sykes is a tricky player and James Henry is also a very good player at this level. Up front Sam Winnall, Matty Taylor and Elliott Lee are very strong options up front with academy player Olamide Shodipo getting a run in the side and has scored against us in the reverse fixture.
Cameron Brannagan should be playing at a higher level, much like our Wizard he is everything Oxford are good at. Dependable, creative, and aggressive, and Oxford fans had every right to be worried when he picked up a very serious eye injury that threatened to blind him permanently earlier in the season. But after being given the all clear, and an extended contract, Robinson’s star pupil is now showing the consistency and the desire to play at a higher level, and is one definitely to watch out for at the weekend.
Predicted Line Up
Laird – O’Hora – Darling – Lewington – Harvie
Surman – O’Riley – Fraser
Jerome – Grigg
I would make more changes but the fitness of Houghton plus putting expectations on Brown would be unfair given the form in general. Harvie deserves a start and will give us a more natural balance in the team.
I am predicting a 2-0 Home win. Jerome and Grigg with the goals. Keep it tight the first 20 minutes and build from there. We always react after defeat / bad performances and at home we’ve been quite strong . Oxford have the 8th best away record in League One so are no mugs, but I have faith in the process.
We Go Again.
THE BIG MATCH PREVIEW IS SPONSORED BY
12 Drakes Mews, Crownhill, MK8 0ER
Tel No – 01908-565904