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Oli Hall’s Oxford United Update – W2

Oli Hall reviews an action-packed week at Oxford United.

Week in Review

Off the back of last week’s disappointing derby day defeat to Wycombe, the Us had a massive week ahead of them.  They delivered across all fronts, culminating in a sensational come-from-behind victory over play-off spot rivals on Saturday.

The week started with the Oxfordshire County Council making their first considerations in a meeting on Tuesday.  The club said that the talks were positive and thanked the council for their collaboration.

Next up were transfer rumours galore as we enter the final week of the January window.  The biggest speculation is that surrounding Jermain Defoe.  Karl Robinson wouldn’t be drawn on the matter, saying: “With Jermain, that’s something that we’re not going to comment on.”  Other targets appear to be focussed on finding a left-back to fill a hole where the U’s desperately need more depth.

The men’s first team gave some players crucial minutes in an impressive 4-1 friendly win against Cheltenham Town with goals from Bily Bodin (2), Adam Smith, and Gatlin O’Donkor.  Meanwhile, the U’18s slipped to a 1-3 defeat at the hands of Plymouth in the Youth Alliance and the women ran out comfortable 3-0 winners to keep their unbeaten home record intact and maintain pressure on top of the table Ipswich.  

Oxford were slow to get going but kicked on and got the breakthrough on 36 minutes when Sarah King finished from a Wallace cross.  Johns added a second just minutes later after a brilliant through ball by captain Haynes and Beth Lumsden added the cherry on top of the cake with a thunderous strike from 35 yards out to wrap up the three points in the second half.

In that same game, Sophie Baker made a landmark 100th appearance, joining a select group of players to make a century of appearances for the U’s.

The men’s senior team came from behind twice on Saturday and Sam Winnall scored an 84th-minute winner to secure a crucial three points (see match report below).

That win and favourable results elsewhere saw United back up into the play-off positions in sixth.  They are now level on points with MK Dons above them and have a three-point buffer between them and Plymouth in seventh.  Next up for the men is an away trip to bottom of the table Gillingham where Oxford will look to build on the momentum, they have gained this week.  The women’s side will host Portsmouth.

Match Report:  Oxford United 3-2 Sheffield Wednesday

Oxford United bounced back from defeat last week in sensational style with an enthralling 3-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday at the Kassam.  Matty Taylor equalised twice and Sam Winnall headed an 84th-minute winner against his former side to earn the Yellows a crucial three points in the playoff race.

It took just seven minutes for Wednesday captain Barry Bannan to open the scoring as he drove home a great strike from just outside the box.

The Owls kicked on and looked the better side for much of the first half with several chances going begging and Jack Stevens being called into action in goal for Oxford.  Things improved for the U’s though and Brannagan saw his effort cleared off the line on 39 minutes.  It was of course top-scorer Matty Taylor who would eventually oblige in added time at the end of the first half with a glancing header.

And Oxford kicked on after the break, switching to five at the back, and putting ball after ball in the Wednesday six-yard box.

It was Sheffield though who, against the run of play, got the crucial third goal after a brilliant move was finished off emphatically by Windass, who had only just come on.

The response was instantaneous from Oxford: within a minute of the restart, Nathan Holland had a shot deflected into the path of Matty Taylor who jabbed home a true poacher’s goal to draw the U’s level.

From then on it was anyone’s game.  The crowd lifted Oxford and they did look the more likely, earning a succession of corners and their final one of the game in the 84th minute.  Billy Bodin supplied the delivery and substitute Winnall flicked home the header to score his first of the season.

United sat back for the remaining minutes, including seven added on for injuries, and held on for massive three points that sees them back up into the play-off places ahead of a visit to bottom side Gillingham next Saturday.

Image: Oliver Hall

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