Another week and more craziness at success for Oxford United. The men’s team ran out 7-1 winners in an extraordinary affair at Gillingham, the women’s side triumphed 3-1 over Portsmouth on Sunday, and more transfer deals started to go through.
The game at Priestfield on Saturday afternoon was truly hard to believe. Cameron Brannagan scored no fewer than four times from the penalty spot and the result came alongside an emphatic 6-0 defeat for promotion rivals Sunderland at Bolton. Elsewhere, MK Dons leapfrogged Wycombe and Wigan also dropped point. Those favourable results leave the Us just three points off fourth with a game in hand.
The women made it a remarkable nine wins from nine to start the season with a 3-1 win at home over against Portsmouth. Goals from Daisy McLachlan, Lauren Haynes opened the scoring before Beth Lumsden scored for the fifth match running to secure the three points five minutes before halftime. The U’s are now just four points off the top with a game in hand. The National League Cup is up next week with a trip to Crawley before a return to league action against promotion rivals Bridgewater the week after.
In transfer news, winger Joel Cooper joined Port Vale on loan on Thursday in search of more game time. Manager Karl Robinson said: “Joel needs to be playing games. Port Vale are a good club where we know he will be looked after and hopefully he gets to help them push on from their league position in the second half of the season.”
In other news, Daniel Agyei joined Crewe after two and a half seasons with Oxford and 93 total appearances. On the women’s side, full-back Amber Roberts has rejoined the U’s from Cardiff.
Looking ahead to next week, the men’s side faces a crunch game against Wigan under the lights on Tuesday night before returning home to host 11th placed Portsmouth on Saturday.
Match Report: Gillingham FC 2-7 Oxford United
Saturday saw one of the most extraordinary results of the season so far in League One. Oxford demolished struggling Gillingham, scoring seven times in total with Cameron Brannagan contributing to the tally with four goals from the spot.
Oxford dominated from the word go and the first goal came after just eight minutes when Billy Bodin capitalised on a defensive error to slot past Sweden keeper Pontos Dahlberg.
Three minutes later, Brannagan got his first chance from the spot after Matty Taylor was brought down. The midfielder dispatched the spot-kick calmly and Taylor headed home from a trademark Bodin set-piece delivery to make it three within 18 minutes.
More horror lay in store for Gillingham fans after the break when a comical error from Dahlberg saw him foul Brannagan inside the box. The Oxford man scored his second from the spot to make it 4-0 before adding the fifth from 12 yards just seven minutes later. It was a moment of history for Brannagan as he became the first man in Oxford history to score a hat-trick of penalties in one game.
A forgivable lapse in concentration saw the home side grab a consolation but the bubble of optimism was pierced with seven minutes of normal time remaining when Brannagan obliged from the spot yet again. This time, Gerald Sithole was to blame for a careless handball.
McKenzie did get one more back for the Kent side but it was Oxford who had the last word. Substitute Anthony Forde nodded home his first goal of the season to ensure that the Yellows scored seven goals away from home for the first time ever.
It was a crazy day elsewhere in the division too. Sunderland lost 6-0 to Bolton, meaning that having started the day with a goal difference eight worse than their promotion rivals, Oxford finished it with a tally three better. They now sit just three points off MK Dons in fourth with a game in hand and can look forward to an away trip to Wigan next week, which might just prove to be their toughest test all season.
Image: Steve Daniels / CC BY-SA 2.0 via Geograph