OXFORD UNITED v WOKING
12:00am, Thu 18th Oct 2007
Oxford United v Woking
3pm on Saturday 20 October 2007
We can?t expect a crowd approaching anything like last season?s Conference record attendance of 11,065 but a trip to the Kassam Stadium is a big event for most non-League sides ? and, as United have found to their cost, the minnows can often rise to the occasion, just as we did on Boxing Day. Jim Smith?s side have lost only one of their eight home games this season but will be disappointed to have drawn four of the others: not really play-off form, let alone automatic promotion form. They currently lie in 11th place. But, if the Cards are to get anything out of this game, they?ll need to reproduce the form they showed at Stevenage, not that which we saw at home to York last Saturday!
Frank Gray confirmed this (Thursday) afternoon that he expected to be able to select from his full squad for Saturday?s game, although there is a lingering doubt about the fitness of Giuseppe Sole, who has been receiving treatment to a kick on his foot incurred last Saturday and who has trained separately from the rest of the squad this week. Of course, that squad no longer includes Paul Hakim, who has returned to Stevenage after his loan spell. It seems likely that Frank will continue with Marvin Morgan and Joe Gatting up front but Liam Marum must have a good chance of making an appearance at some point, especially if Gez Sole is not fully fit. The other decision for Frank is whether to restore skipper Tom Hutchinson to the defence following his period on the sidelines recovering from his foot injury. Although Woking shipped three goals last weekend, Matt Ruby, who has played so well in central defence during Tom?s absence, did not seem to be particularly culpable.
After the disappointment of missing out on promotion last season, after having looked certain champions earlier in the campaign, Jim Smith released a number of players, including long-time favourite Steve Basham, now with Exeter City, Andy Burgess, who switched to Rushden and Diamonds, and Rufus Brevett. There was the usual influx of new faces. Gary Twigg joined from Airdrie to replace Basham up front; Alex Jeannin, a familiar face from his spells at Exeter and Hereford, was added at the back; midfielder Phil Trainer signed from Moor Green; 19 year-old winger Joel Ledgister, having had spells on loan at Gravesend and Northfleet and Lewes, made the move from Southend United; and Michael Standing joined on non-contract terms. They all joined a number of seasoned performers, including keeper Billy Turley, ex-Arsenal and Gillingham striker Paul Shaw; exciting winger Yemi Obudade; and, of course, our Tom?s twin brother, Eddie Hutchinson.
Jim Smith has had to cope with a number of injuries. Most recently, wing back Eddie Anaclet and striker Rob Duffy were both injured in the home draw against York City and are expected to miss Saturday?s game. Gary Twigg will definitely be absent following ankle surgery. Paul Shaw has now left the Club and striker Marvin Robinson is on loan to Cambridge United but has also been injured in a car crash.
SEASON SO FAR
August saw United get off to a good start with home wins over Forest Green Rovers and Stafford Rangers, an away victory at Burton Albion and a draw at Stevenage Borough. Cambridge United inflicted the only defeat, at the Abbey Stadium. But Oxford have since won only three of their subsequent games, beating Altrincham and Farsley away and Salisbury at home. Other home games have produced disappointing draws against Halifax, Exeter, York and Torquay, whilst the Shots won 3-2.
I?ve already mentioned our heroic 0-0 draw at the Kassam Stadium on Boxing Day: a classic ?backs to the wall? display in familiar Glenn Cockerill style. Even more vital was our 1-0 victory in the return encounter a few weeks later. Neil Smith headed the Cards in front in the 12th minute but Yemi Odubade ? as he had done at the Kassam Stadium ? proceeded to torment the Woking defence, in which Karl Murray, playing out of position, shone. Somehow or other the Cards held on for three invaluable points.
Oxford United Football Club
Tel: 01865 337500
Tickets: 01865 337533
Fax: 01865 337555
by coach ? why not take it easy and go on the Supporters? Club coach? It leaves Kingfield at 12 noon and the cost is ?11 for members and ?15 for non-members. Ring the Club Shop (01483 772470) to book a place.
by car ? take the M25 and M40; the Stadium is just outside the ring road on the south of the city, and clearly signposted on all major routes into Oxford. There is plenty of parking at the ground.
by train ? Oxford station is a LONG way from the ground according to the Official Website. Best take the 601 Football Special Bus, which operates for League and Cup matches from Stop R1 just outside the station. This direct service departs at 1pm & 2pm. Buses return at 5pm & 6pm. A single fare is ?2.50 for adults and ?1.30 for U16s; return fares are not available.
OTHER THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW
? admission prices ? On the day: Adults ?18, Students ?14, Under 16/Over 65/Under 7 ?11
? away fans ? Away fans are allocated part of the covered North Stand.
Come on, you Cards!