|Oxford United 3 v 1 Rochdale|
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 3rd November 2020 Kick-off 19:00
Match Preview: Oxford vs Rochdale
Monday, 2nd Nov 2020 17:13 by AtThePeake
The matches continue to come thick and fast for Dale as they head to Oxford United on Tuesday night looking to stretch their unbeaten run to five matches.
Date: Tuesday 3rd November 2020
With the season kicking off later than usual, but all of the standard early campaign EFL Trophy and EFL Cup games still to fit in, it was inevitable that there would be some tough runs on the legs during this truncated League One season.
And that's exactly what Rochdale and indeed all lower league teams are having to endure at the moment as they play a third consecutive midweek league fixture on Tuesday evening, this time the opponents for Brian Barry-Murphy's men being a struggling Oxford United outfit.
You get the impression that despite the small squad at his disposal and the injuries suffered by the likes of Paul McShane, Kwadwo Baah and Stephen Humphrys, that the Dale boss won't be too disappointed with the sheer mount of games being played at the moment.
And the reason for that is that the Irishman's side seem to have found some real momentum in recent weeks and have gone four matches unbeaten in the league for only the second time under his tutelage - the first time being in his first four games in charge back in the 2018/2019 campaign.
Alex Newby seems to have found his feet at League One level now also, scoring very well-taken goals in the games against Shrewsbury and Bristol Rovers - he'll hope to keep that form up as more attacking options return from injury in the coming weeks.
Given the negativity that seemed to be enshrouding the fanbase in the summer with the loss of key players like Ian Henderson and Callum Camps, pre-season odds with some bookmakers had Dale odds-on to finish in the bottom four and be relegated to League Two this term.
With every game they play at the moment, it feels like Brian Barry-Murphy and his team are out to prove them wrong.
Under one of the EFL's most renowned managers in former MK Dons man Karl Robinson, the U's managed to cling onto a fourth-placed finish on PPG at the end of the last campaign, despite losing key players Tariqe Fosu and Shandon Baptiste to Brentford in the January transfer window.
Then, having overcome Portsmouth on penalties in the semi-finals, the Yellows crashed to a 1-2 defeat in the play-off final at Wembley at the hands of Wycombe Wanderers and the morale-crushing nature of that defeat appears to have played some part in what has been a woeful start to the new campaign.
Although they have played fewer games than the three teams directly above them, Oxford currently sit rock bottom of the League Two table, their only points so far coming from victories against Milton Keynes and Accrington Stanley with all six of their other fixtures ending in defeat.
In the last week, the U's have fallen to consecutive 2-0 away defeats, failing to really lay a glove on either of Charlton Athletic or Fleetwood Town and as such, the Kassam Stadium fanbase may now be worrying as to the remainder of the campaign and the suitability of Robinson to continue in the job, with performances a far cry from the ones that had them flying high last term.
The encouraging thing is that on paper, this is still a very strong squad.Former youth product Sam Long has developed into a club stalwart in defence, whilst winger James Henry is always a threat and few attackers are as reliable in front of goal at Matty Taylor, who already has three goals this term despite his side's struggles.
Robinson can at least take heart from the fact that his side have a fine record over their Tuesday night opponents in recent years. Dale famously won the first ever competitive match at Oxford's Kassam Stadium thanks to goals from Matt Doughty and Simon Coleman, but Oxfordshire has proved an unhappy hunting ground since then.
Since then, Rochdale have won just once in their 10 trips to the Kassam Stadium and indeed they come into this one having failed to win in their last seven meetings with Oxford, the last of which yielded a thumping 3-0 victory for the Yellows after a sending off for Aaron Wilbraham.
16 Dec 2017 - Rochdale 0-0 Oxford United - League One
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #18 by wessex_exile
Trump has finally conceded defeat, albeit in a childlike, begrudging and typically ungracious manner, but at least things are moving on now, and hopefully the beginning of a new, less adversarial era in world affairs. There was an interesting article on one of the news websites this morning looking at how the transition for other administrations have gone – none as poorly (so far) as this, but still some amusing anecdotes nevertheless. Apparently, ahead of George W Bush taking up residence, the departing Clinton team went around the White House removing all the W’s from keyboards – very childish, but quite funny too…
Letters from Wiltshire #17 by wessex_exile
So I never actually imagined more than two weeks after the event that Trump and his attack-dog “Hot Mess” Giuliani would still be refusing to acknowledge that Biden has won the US Presidential election, but there you have it. Closer to home, we are just past halfway through our circuit-breaker 4-week lockdown, and most of the graphs suggest things are slowly improving, but nowhere near a rate that would see figures return to the pre-October levels. Much closer to home, Alfie has been in self-isolation for the last 14 days because one of his teachers tested positive – delighted to say we have both passed through that period without developing symptoms…and without killing each other either 😊
Letters from Wiltshire #16 by wessex_exile
Good morning everyone. Outside the football bubble, and across the pond, we have the soon to be ex-President of the United States walled up in his White House bunker, inexorably going through the Kübler-Ross 5 stages of grief…and in a particularly undignified and un-statesman like manner. Clearly we’ve had Denial by the bucket-load, Anger as he lashes out firing those he perceives as disloyal, Bargaining as his legal team try and force recounts of perfectly valid election results, and no doubt a huge amount of Depression as he sulked in silence for the best part of a week. Now perhaps, as he nearly slips up when eventually breaking radio silence to address the press, we see the beginnings of Acceptance. If I’m honest, I’d be quite happy for Trump to keep this up and make the transition as embarrassing as possible for himself and his supporters – and if the police could eventually drag him out of the White House in hand-cuffs, all the better.
Letters from Wiltshire #15 by wessex_exile
Well, there’s a turn up for the books, the mighty U’s unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup by lowly Marine AFC, four tiers below us in the league pyramid. These things happen, and we’ve done it to others on more than a few occasions, but the manner of the result on Saturday is what rankles the most. Virtually our strongest line-up available, but the complete lack of any urgency right from the outset was dreadful to see. Even as we reached squeaky bum time into the 2nd half, having drawn level, still we ponderously passed aimless triangles in midfield for far too long. Someone has to pay for that debacle, so let’s hope it’s the auld enemy Southend tonight in the Pointless Trophy…
Letters from Wiltshire #14 by wessex_exile
Welcome to Lockdown #2, and as I write this blog, an as yet uncertain future with the orange loon threatening to refuse to hand over the keys to the White House and calling on all his white supremacist mates to rise up in arms. Moving on swiftly from chump to champ, Chairman Robbie has again addressed the U’s faithful, with another clear, concise statement on the current situation and how it may or may not affect Colchester United. I know in the past he hasn’t been everyone’s cup of tea, but I do think an awful lot of people are warming to him because of the leadership he has shown through this crisis, and long may it last!
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