By Steve Manning
Oxford United v The Dons – Preview
Venue: The Kassam Stadium (capacity – 12,500)
Competition: League One – Match Day: 9 of 46.
Oxford Utd – (15th) P 8, W 3, D 1, L 4, GF 7, GA 8, Pts 10.
Top League Scorer: Cameron Brannagan – 6 goals.
Top Assist Provider: Billy Bodin & James Henry – 1 each.
Dons – (22nd) P 8, W 2, D 1, L 5, GF 7, GA 10, Pts 7.
Top Scorers: Will Grigg & Bradley Johnson – 2 goals each.
Top Assist Providers: Darragh Burns, Dawson Devoy, Matt Smith, Bradley Johnson, and Conor Grant.
Oxford lost 1-0 away to Plymouth Argyle, and Dons lost 2-0 at home to Bolton in League One.
Oxford wins: 5 Drawn: 3 Dons wins: 2, goals Oxford: 15 Dons: 11
Last time we Met – 19th April 2022 – Oxford United 1 Dons 0
Bolton Wanderers – Review
The Dons poor League form continues following a lacklustre defeat to a clinical Bolton Wanderers side, and a toothless performance from Liam Manning’s young side saw the team fall to 22nd place in League One’s standings – with only Morecambe and Burton Albion below Dons in the table.
Dion Charles gave the Trotters the lead from 12 yards out, after Gethin Jones was fouled on the edge of the area. Jones himself wrapped up the points after half time, to send the visitors into the play-off places. Jamie Cumming spectacularly turned George Thomason’s finely struck effort around his post 17 minutes into the first half as Bolton continued to press the men from MK1.
Bolton’s pressure paid dividends on the 31st minutes of the game, Gethin Jones was again on the receiving end after Dawson Devoy fouled the Welsh wingback inside the penalty box. Dion Charles took the responsibility and slammed home his penalty in emphatic fashion.
Dons Welsh International Matt Smith volleyed an effort wide from distance, following a decent spell of pressure from Manning’s team, just before half-time. Matt Dennis put his header wide just 5 minutes into the second half, as he got onto the end of a Dawson Devoy cross.
Jamie Cumming then made an outstanding save to deny Bolton striker Charles a second goal from a point-blank effort, but it proved to be little more than a reprieve as the pressure told for the beleaguered Dons.
Welsh wingback Gethin Jones placed a perfect header past the on-loan Cumming, from fellow defender Jack Iredale’s whipped free-kick from the left – on the hour mark. Iredale himself missed a gilt-edged chance to make it 3-0 for Ian Evatt’s Wanderers, the visitors from Greater Manchester proceeded to coast to victory with no danger of the Dons getting back into the game.
How could Oxford line up?
Robbo is well known to favour the 4-2-3-1 attacking formation that brought great success to the Dons during his time at MK1. He has also dabbled with varying 3 & 4 at the back combinations since being in charge.
Possible Oxford starting XI: 3-5-2
13. Simon Eastwood
2. Sam Long, 4. Stuart Findlay, 16. Ciaran Brown.
17. James Henry, 14. Lewis Bate, 8 Cameron Brannigan, 18. Marcus McGuane, 42. Steve Seddon
22. Kyle Joseph, 7. Billy Bodin.
How Dons could line-up?
The Dons have leaned on the same formation at times during this season, they have recruited for it as a priority for Manning’s vision for the team and it’s playing style. If skipper Lewington plays, we will see a 3-4-3 formation which suits him best.
Possible Dons XI: 3-4-3
Jack Tucker, Warren O’Hora, Dean Lewington.
Henry Lawrence, Bradley Johnson, Ethan Robson, Daniel Harvie
Darragh Burns, Will Grigg, Louie Barry.
One’s to Watch?
8. Cameron Brannigan – Oxford Utd: The U’s talismanic midfielder is the driving force behind everything Karl Robinson’s team does. A spot kick and set piece specialist, who is lethal from any distance – Brannigan has the ability to punish even the slightest of mistakes. One to watch.
8. Ethan Robson – Dons: A very underrated player in my honest opinion, in the central midfield pairing when the Sunderland born Robson plays, he often goes unnoticed when things are going right on the pitch. Robbo is very good at reading the game and is more than capable of playing the holding role which is going to be crucial against a free-flowing attacking outfit like Oxford. My one to watch if he plays.
Oxford 1 Dons 1
Both sides are under pressure to perform following varying results, Oxford like the Dons should have been higher in the standings than they currently are. It is too early to be calling it the “El Sackico” though.
Goal scorer? Normally I’d be calling Will Grigg – last two previews had the man on fire as a pick. This time I’m going for Ethan Robson, even if he does it from the bench.
Match Odds supplied by Oddschecker:
Oxford win: 20/21 Draw: 23/10 Dons win: 13/5
Game to finish 1-1: 5/1
The MKDSA are taking memberships, and renewals, for the 2022/23 season, from as little as £3 per adult, or £8 per Family (2 adults, 2 children), and Under 18’s £1-50 for the campaign, life memberships are also available to buy at £25. Get yourself one today and be entered into our monthly cash prize draw. It could be you!
Buy online via the membership link on www.mkdsa.org.uk, alternatively, visit us at the MKDSA stand situated in Lewington’s on any home match day.
As ever, if you are going to the Kassam Stadium today, I wish you safe travels to and from the game. Hopefully the boys can turn in a better performance than last time for us.
Until Next Time, SM.