Natalie Kaye - 23rd January 2007
Woking welcome the league?s second-placed team this evening. Oxford are now 3 points behind Dagenham, but have lost just 3 times so far this season.
Woking ?favorite? Brian Talbot replaced Argentine Ramon Diaz as manager at the start of last season. Apart from a brief winning streak in September which saw United reach 8th in the table, Talbot found little success and was sacked in March 2006 with the club in 22nd place. He was replaced by youth team coach Darren Patterson. On 21 March 2006, Oxford owner, Firoz Kassam sold the club for approximately ?2 million (including the club's debts) to Florida-based businessman Nick Merry, who had played for United's youth team in the mid-1970s. Merry immediately initiated changes to the upper hierarchy of the club.
Jim Smith, the club's most successful ever manager, returned to the helm bringing in five new players on his first day in charge. Smith was however unable to prevent relegation. After 44 successive years in English League football, a 2?3 home defeat to Leyton Orient on 6th May 2006 saw Oxford relegated from League Two in 23rd place. By coincidence, one of the sides to be promoted to the League at the same time were Accrington Stanley, the side Oxford replaced when they were elected to the League in 1962.
THE OXFORD SQUAD
Jim Smith has an impressive squad at his disposal. Former Rushden & Diamond championship winning ?keeper Billy Turley signed a new contract in the summer, to add to new signings; former Southend defender Carl Pettefer, and Tom?s brother Eddie Hutchinson from Brentford. Welshman Robert Duffy is another new face. The striker has already made an impact this season, with 14 goals in 17 starts.
Fans favourite Steve Basham is in his 4th season at the club, and experienced Chris Hargreaves has made over 400 first team appearances in his career for various league clubs, scoring 38 times, mostly from midfield. Latvian international Kristaps Grebis, recently on trial at Leeds and Oldham, has joined in the transfer window from Metalurgs until the end of the season.
RESULTS SO FAR
Oxford had made the top spot their own until recently since their relegation into the Conference. They have hit something of a bad patch lately and are without a win in their last 7 games, which has allowed Dagenham overtake them at the top.
Robert Duffy leads the scoring charts with 14, followed by Yemi Odubade with 8. Three weeks ago they drew 0-0 in their most recent Conference match. Morecambe hung on for the point despite a late deluge of chances from the home side.
The weekend before last they drew again, this time at home in the Trophy, to Halifax. In front of a crowd of 2631, United had to settle for a replay late in the afternoon. Foster had given Halifax lead after 11 minutes but 2 goals in 8 minutes before halftime, from Robinson and Rose, looked to have secured the U?s passage into the next round. Halifax?s new signing Darryn Stamp made it 2-2 in the 87th minute. On Saturday Oxford drew yet again, this time away at Grays Athletic who twice came from behind after Duffy netted a brace for United.
OUR RECENT RECORD AGAINST OXFORD
Oxford United 0 Woking 0
Woking drew 0-0 with Oxford on Boxing Day in front of the record Conference crowd of 11,065. The Cards played well in the first half, and defended as if their lives depended on it in the second, to earn an excellent point against the then league leaders.
Come on, you Cards!