Tag Archives: Oxford United

Its Oxford…

Oxford United booked a return to League 2 beating York City 3-1 at Wembley this afternoon.

From a Dons perspective this is probably the better outcome, Oxford are light years ahead of us in terms of budget, and probably will be for years to come regardless of rumours of budget cuts that may or may not have happened had Oxford stayed in the BSP. Although for us the move to professional football is going to require a settling in period which may not make us immediate serious challengers, and we still face the strong challenge of sides like York, Rushden and of course Luton, Oxford’s promotion removes an obstacle that may have halted our progress over the next couple of years, or at very least created an obstacle for a team above that then become our obstacle, like being the second behind a broken down tube train on the hottest day of the year if you see where I’m coming from…

In terms of favourites next year, well I suppose Luton must stand out as favourites, although they won’t have it all their own way next term as I’m sure the other play-off failures Rushden and York will be challenging, along with sides like Cambridge, Mansfield and Wrexham who will be bitterly disappointed with their showing last year. Of course its possible budgeting and funding aspects may play a part, but in terms of promotion contenders I wouldn’t look outside those teams.

In my opinion the Dons will be in a second group, although will improve as the season goes – a contrast with this seasons part-time drop off when we seemed to be in a great position. Whether this will be enough for a play-off place I’m not sure, if the group of teams I mentioned don’t run away with it, or enough of them are off the pace, maybe we can clinch a berth. This is ignoring real wildcards such as Newport or Grimsby – logic suggest they won’t play a part in the promotion race, but you never can tell…

Either way, the full BSP lineup has now been confirmed, and we can now look forward to the publication of the fixtures in June.

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It’s Oxford Or York For L2

Luton and Rushden & Franchise have the dubious pleasure of a visit to Kingsmeadow next term after defeats to York and Oxford respectively. A pair of 1-0 victories were enough for York to progress after what sounded like a gritty and defensive performance this afternoon at Kenilworth Road. They will face Oxford who eventually eased past R&F 3-1 on aggregate.

The final takes place at Wembley on Sunday 16th May, KO 5pm. The match will be shown live on Sky Sports.

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Crap, crap, crap. Not the Dons last night, but me sitting here on my sofa, watching Sky Sports News and writing this. It means I’ve blown my perfect sickness record for the year (and its only February!) after contracting what I believe might be the only genuine case of football-related sickness ever recorded… or it could just have been the dodgy egg and bacon sandwich I picked up from Twickenham railway station yesterday afternoon… either way I’ve always felt that spending a morning retching into the toilet bowl is a little bit unfair when you haven’t had the night of heavy drinking beforehand that normally makes it in some way worthwhile…

What? No drinking? I hear you say… well to be honest I would have had a couple of beers except for heavy traffic on the Oxford Ring Road putting a stop to all that. Then a fifteen minute wait to actually park up, in the overflow section behind Frankie & Bennies. It was probably a good thing too in the circumstances. But I’m sure your delighted to be reading this earlier than expected. In fact I know most of you are chuffed to be reading the blog at all – after a few weeks of poor service I’ve been inundated with emails from you offering genuine Rolex watches, sex drugs and the like… all at knockdown prices. Plus I never realised we had so many supporters in Africa, all wishing the Anonymous Don to join their adventure in laundering millions of pounds of cash into the UK. You crazy Africans! I wish I had time to reply to all of you…

Inside the ground, and my trusty travelling partner Maliniok was marvelling at the stadium, telling me that even Polish top flight clubs would be jealous of the facilities (which doesn’t bode well for the Euro 2012 tournament!). And while we marvel at the facilities compared to our Kingsmeadow home, you have to say it certainly isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Take the stand we were sitting in, shorten it slightly and plonk it behind the goal and you could be forgiven for thinking you were at Mansfield. When looking around (avoiding the open end), squinting the eyes slightly and adding a bit more blue and a bit less yellow, you could have found yourself viewing a future Dons stadium.

Which got me thinking… how would we go about distancing any potential new stadium of our own from the crowd? Even in theory it’s quite difficult… my best idea yet has involved taking a notch of seating out of the stand closest to the touchline and having a statue of Allen Batsford, facing the pitch. So many clubs erect statues of legends outside the ground, facing away, even at Wembley poor old Bobby Moore faces an eternity of watching the fans come down Wembley Way then return home again, destined never to view the action or be part of the atmosphere… Perhaps behind him could be a restoration or replica of the Womble Till I Die gates at Plough Lane, little things like this that would stamp our ownership of the stadium. Even have an area of standing pods, in a corner or above existing seating areas where supporters could gather to eat food and stand together, not for the prawn sandwich brigade but first come, first served. Then if they wish to return to their seats others could take their place, one in, one out. I know it would be expensive, but why not? Anything to break the monotony of plastic seats.

On and off the pitch, Oxford have got it all sorted. They stand head and shoulders above any of their rivals. Wimbledon weren’t great on the night, the lads worked hard and caused one or two problems to their hosts, but you always had the impression they had an extra gear they could step up to if required. And for the second time in four days a Constable ruined my match experience, this time it was Oxford’s James nabbing both the goals. The first was pretty preventable as the Dons defence ended a period of twenty minutes of Jamie Pullen shot stopping practice by finally conceding. It was sloppy stuff but nothing that our hosts hadn’t deserved, although it seemed to be the wake up call the Dons needed. Wimbledon mounted a series of attacks, never really threatening except for a hopeful Nathan Elder header that bounced off the top of the bar. To be honest, despite the high work rate from the likes of Poole and Hatton, and particularly the exceptional Hendry, unfortunately none of them had their shooting boots with them – which was a problem as all the chances fell to our midfielders. It was more like toblerone boots as shots flew high and wide, threatening those Oxford fans sitting in the corners more than the net.

A lively Lewis Taylor was forced off in the first half, replaced by Jay Conroy who found himself involved in the main talking point of the second half. An attempted clearance was charged down by an Oxford man, seemingly with his arms and sending him clean through on goal. With no angle to narrow Jamie Pullen was left exposed in goal, and Conroy selflessly pulled back his man, a clear sending off but leaving the Dons with half a chance of getting back into the game. Conroy seems to be rivalling Elliott Godfrey as the unluckiest player in the squad, for every time Godfrey found himself in the way of a goal-bound Dons shot I can think of a moment where Conroy slipped over leaving his man a clear run; and for all the time Godfrey has spent on the sidelines with niggling injuries Conroy has found himself losing his place due to unfortunate suspension.

Wimbledon brought on Jon Main for a labouring Nathan Elder (presumably his ankle wasn’t quite 100%?), which added genuine pace to the firing line, unfortunately with little time to measure balls over the top the Dons midfield saw the Oxford back line easily batter away. Either that or balls that did put the hosts defense on the back foot ended up being chased down by the not-quite-as-pacy Kedwell, still a better option than watching Jon Main trying flick a ball on though…

Constable grabbed his second to end the game with around ten minutes to go, but credit to the Dons fans, most stayed to applaud the lads off at the end, despite what must have been a very strong desire to beat the traffic. At most other grounds you would say that beating everyone else out of the car park is a shameful reason to leave a game early, yet we deeply regretted not leaving early ourselves as we found ourselves stuck for half an hour without moving! Love the Dons fans reaction after, loudly wondering why there wasn’t another way out of the car park, as if Oxford would suddenly realise ‘Hey! We didn’t think of that! What a great idea!’ after several years of stadium usage…

A free Saturday follows, as the little man at Conference HQ with a pencil and eraser couldn’t work out how to produce the fixtures without leaving clubs with blank Saturdays – maybe the Conference will at least catch up with the 20th century shortly, never mind the 21st. Which probably helps the manager more than we could imagine. Potentially nine home games of our remaining fourteen remain – and I would say all of them are potentially winnable, even the visits of Rushden and Stevenage. The playoffs remain within reach, but by the time we face Altrincham, certain sides will have pulled ahead of us in terms of games played, which could leave us playing catchup for most of our remaining campaign.

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Oxford United – Match Ratings

Pullen – 6

Conroy – 7

Hussey – 6

Gregory – 7

Lorraine – 7

Johnson – 7

Hatton – 7

Taylor – 5

Kedwell – 6

Duncan – 5

Moore – 5

SUBS

Main – 5

Wellard – 5

Godfrey – 6

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AFC Wimbledon 0 Oxford United 1 – A Match Report

It felt strange walking out of the ground following a 0-1 defeat and feeling very positive about the performance, but that’s what happened following this game. I know going into the game I felt perhaps the performance against Luton had been a one-off. In the days before the game, deep in the back of my consciousness I had tried to keep dark thoughts of a heavy home defeat at bay.

And yet as I stumbled out of the ground wondering how on earth we lost that game, encountering Oxford fans pinching themselves that they got away with the three points, it suddenly struck me that outside of our little world, other clubs actually look at coming to Kingsmeadow as a tough place to come. We spend much of our time reminding each other that we won’t be putting together a serious challenge this year that perhaps sometimes we forget that.

The reason we took nothing from this game had nothing to do with Oxford being a much better side than us. In fact for long periods of this game they looked quite ordinary. We lost because we showed Oxford too much respect in the first half, and failed to take our chances in the second. While I certainly wouldn’t want to criticise Terry or the players after our great start, I would hope when Wrexham, Mansfield and Cambridge come to town we won’t wait until we are a goal behind until we take the initiative to put pressure on the opposition.

In fact the only aspect of this game that made me think Oxford looked potential champions was the manner in which they rode their luck. They were strong and well organised, yet today they took the points despite not really looking as though they deserved to. You know, like we did last term…

Its annoying looking back on the first half, with the power of hindsight, that we showed Oxford so much respect that ultimately they didn’t really deserve. The first half followed a pattern where Oxford pushed forward without ever showing enough guile to break down the Dons defence, but often enough to worry regular Dons watchers that any mistakes by their team could lead to problems.

It was Wimbledon who created the games first decent chance… well, sort of. A sortie down the right saw the ball break to Conroy, who literally dumped a high ball into the box. Misjudged completely by an Oxford man, it broke to Luke Moore who had space and time but in such a manner the Dons man had to hit it straight away, unfortunately looping the ball over the bar.

Lets not dress this up as something it wasn’t by the way. I’m not mentioning many first half chances, because there wasn’t really that many of them. It must have been a shocking half for any neutrals that bothered getting tickets, as Oxford tried to batter Wimbledon into submission, only for the Dons defence to bang it clear to Kedwell, who had little support to make any decent use of the ball. It was literally all long balls and flicks to nowhere.

Oxford managed a couple of scares just before half time. A deep corner from the left floated over everyone, before being knocked back over Pullen, headed away from under his own bar by Sam Hatton, and somehow scrambled clear. Then a ball played in from the right was met by a flicked header from Adam Chapman that just dropped wide of Jamie Pullen’s right post.

Wimbledon looked a lot more positive at the start of the second half, yet found themselves a goal down just five minutes in. Some poor defending from Jay Conroy allowed Oxford in, as he appeared to leave the ball for an unsuspecting Brett Johnson only for an Oxford man to steal the ball and sweep it right, and Damian Batt’s brilliant cross knocked in along the six yard box was turned into the far corner by the unfortunate Conroy.

Jay Conroy certainly didn’t deserve this after his decent start to the season, and the errors that started and finished the move for Oxfords goal were out of character. You can see why Brown favours him over Luke Garrard. Conroy possesses qualities you wouldn’t normally expect of a fullback, especially his ability in the air. Apparently Jay filled in well at centre half last week after Lorraine and Judge were injured, and by all accounts he did very well. Coupled with his ability going forward, perhaps not of the same quality as Chris Hussey but we certainly don’t look as unbalanced as we did last year when every positive move seemed to come from the left.

Wimbledon didn’t respond to going behind immediately, in fact the game followed its well worn pattern until around the hour mark. Jay Conroy moved forwards with the ball looking for a pass in midfield, but the Oxford midfield backed off him allowing him to fire a low shot that was straight at Ryan Clarke, yet the Oxford keeper did well not to spill the ball with Dons players lurking.

Shortly after Derek Duncan fired in a shot that was immediately blocked, however the ball looped into the air dangerously. Kedwell beat Clarke to the dropping ball but the Dons top scorer could only stab the ball into the keepers arms. With Hussey and Conroy finally getting into the game down their respective flanks, Wimbledon looked threatening.

Oxford should have been reduced to ten men on 68 minutes after a great ball to Lewis Taylor on the right saw him flick the ball past Oxford fullback Kevin Sandwith. However Sandwith cut Taylor down with a shocking challenge that caught the Dons man just above the knee. After extensive treatment Taylor was able to continue, yet the referee determined the challenge only warranted a yellow card.

True, the referees inconsistency had been working both ways until this point (especially his insistence that any 50/50 aerial challenge should be blown for backing in, something that cost the Dons a few free kicks in the first half but almost certainly prevented Paul Lorraine giving away a penalty after a spot of climbing…), and you could say this made amends for a decision made in the Salisbury game when Jon Main should have seen red. But decisions don’t balance themselves out for long, and Wimbledon were on the wrong end of a poor decision minutes later.

It happened when the breakthrough looked like it had come for the Dons on 69 minutes, as Paul Lorraine found himself upfield following a corner and seemed about to pull the trigger to level the scores before finding himself bundled to the floor by Batt. The Oxford man seemed certain to be shown a red card, only for the referee to decide a yellow card would be a more appropriate punishment.

Not only this but the official spent several minutes sorting this out (fortunately remembering to stop his watch… although more on this later…), including ensuring no Oxford player had gained a head-start in encroaching into the box (down to the last inch…). While all this was going on, Danny Kedwell was waiting with ball on penalty spot, presumably changing his mind several times.

After such a long wait it may have been sensible to re-spot the ball and compose himself once more, instead Kedwell’s tame right foot effort was easily kept out by Clarke. Kedwell has had to carry the load of goalscoring expectation so far with Jon Mains loss of form, and maybe this was a big game to far for the man who normally puts in his best work while acting as a foil for his strike partner. A few goals for Main, or the return to match fitness of new addition Ross Montague will take some of the pressure off Kedwell once more, but until then we are relying on our midfield to help him out a little.

While Wimbledon pushed forward, Oxford resorted to picking them off on the break. Pullen had to get down and smother a shot after an Oxford man had muscled past the Dons defence too easily. But in reality it was all Wimbledon. A Hatton deep cross found Danny Kedwell free at the far post but it was just too deep to give the big striker a chance to make up for his previous miss, floating the ball to the keeper from a tight angle.

By this stage Conroy had been sacrificed for Ricky Wellard (with same Hatton moving to right back). Wellard was to spurn a couple of chances that could have put Wimbledon back into the game. However the youngster has looked sharp in all other aspects of his game (except finishing!), and we may well see him start on Monday against Grays.

The first came when Hatton (who had his best game yet this season in midfield) crossed only for Wellard, with the goal at his mercy, to allow the ball to slide of his head. The ball continued to the far post where Main was lurking, the striker couldn’t make proper contact but was offside anyway.

Then, the penalty aside, came Wimbledon’s best chance. A fantastic deep cross from Hussey on the left was met by Kedwell, heading back across goal for Wellard who once again froze, the ball seemed like it hit him and bounced into Clarke’s arms. I have faith that very soon Wellard is going to break his scoring duck by belting one in from thirty yards in a manner that will make Luke Moore’s effort against Salisbury look like a tap in by comparison. Until then, maybe Terry might like to put him on the six yard line, point him towards goal, and have him belt the ball in the net all day until it becomes second nature. 

This was Wimbledon’s last chance, although Oxford had a couple of what looked like sitters as they exploited gaps in the Dons defence. Paul Lorraine looked like he had been seriously injured in stoppage time as Jamie Pullen bravely headed a through ball clear, colliding with his centre half.

As I don’t tend to report on incidents like ‘long ball by the keeper, headed clear by Lorraine’ it might not seem like he does a lot by reading my reports, except maybe for giving away penalties and occasionally pushing forward for corners, but I would just like to add now what an immense contribution Lorraine makes. That’s taking nothing away from his defensive partner Brett Johnson, and it was their solid display all afternoon that kept Oxford at bay.

The game didn’t actually finish until close to five, as the referee fortunately added the time it took for Lorraine to be treated to the six he already added on, which mainly came from him stopping his watch to talk to someone every time a foul took place. Of course, this also meant that he blew the whistle as soon as time ran out, which for Wimbledon was just as Chris Hussey was about to play a ball in from the left. Oh well…

Which brings me back to the start. A moment of intense frustration as the whistle blew passed almost immediately, and I could appreciate the performance the boys put in. They deserved the ovation given by the majority of the crowd at the end, and if the boys can put in a performance half as good as this on Monday at Grays we won’t have any problems.

Oh, and I probably don’t need to lose any sleep over heavy home defeats anymore…

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Conference Score! Saturday 29th August ’09

AFC Wimbledon    0 (0)

Oxford United    (0) 1    Conroy (OG) 50

Unbeaten leaders Oxford showed why they are top with a smash and grab away win against a Wimbledon side that had no luck all afternoon. A Jay Conroy own goal gave Oxford a 50th minute lead on an afternoon when it looked as though they were never going to score by their own means.

Danny Kedwell missed a penalty given after Lorraine was hauled down when about to equalise. The Oxford man stayed on the pitch, and Wimbledon went on to spurn a couple of great chances, substitute Wellard being especially guilty late on. A stop start game saw a full eight minutes of added time, yet not enough for the Dons to grab an equaliser. But Wimbledon can hold their heads high after a great performance against genuine title contenders.

Full report to follow…

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The General Specific (Friday 28th August ’09)

At last! The final piece of the jigsaw has been completed. Ross Montague has joined from Brentford, where he has been recuperating from a knee injury. Which suggests that either Brentford don’t rate him, or Brentford don’t think he will recover match fitness lost from his injury any time soon. Either way, who cares! Brentford are League One now (bless ’em!), so naturally he should still be able to do a job for us.

Plus… Terry has been tracking him for TWO years!? How good does that make you feel… we were in the Ryman League back then. It wouldn’t surprise me if after the forms were faxed off to the Conference and the FA, Terry relaxed in his chair, lit a huge cigar and said ‘I love it when a plan comes together…’. Who knows which stars of the future TB has his eyes on.

Montague has now been stolen away from Brentford and stored in a hidden garden behind the John Smiths, where we hope it won’t take eighteen years for him to blossom into a fit, hungry striker. In fact we will be looking for him to bolster the strike force within weeks, what with Jon Main suffering in front of goal, Danny K seemingly held together with selotape and youth prospect Peter Rapson not yet getting the chances he seemed to have been promised.

A sixty minute turnout for the reserves against Uxbridge on Tuesday should help (and should help bolster the attendance at the Waterside… at least by half a dozen). On the subject of the Reserves, they continued their decent start with a 4-1 win over at Basingstoke on Wednesday. First team players on display included Elliott Godfrey and Ricky Wellard, with Kenny Adjei getting some important match time under his belt.

Montague aside, we have been informed by the gaffer that the entire squad ‘may’ be called on for the two games this weekend. I don’t think anyone is in doubt he won’t field his full strength side tomorrow against Oxford, however how he could know himself who he will use against Grays I don’t know, after all Grays probably haven’t even signed half the players they will field on Monday yet…

Finally, normal ervice will be resumed over the weekend starting with the Oxford United match report (Sunday-ish?)… Heres to six points by Monday evening…

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The General Specific (Wednesday 20th May ’09)

So I haven’t written a General Specific for a while, and I’m not going to go overboard on this one. Basically, there has been no news. But as we all know, no news is good news! Hurray! I’ve been working my fingers to the blogging bone recently, both here and on Control>Shoot, which I’ve managed to secure a regular readership for mainly due to a protest campaign which, while agreed with by the majority of those who read the blog, was sadly to trivial to spur them to actually sign the petition… Booooo! But on the plus side, I have the petition with the lowest views to signature ratio since ‘Save money by sending Rampton Inmates to look after sick kids’. Hurray!

Anyway now I’ve managed to fill out an opening paragraph with absolutely no Dons news (Hurray!… err… Booooo!), lets have a look at what’s in the papers this week. Well the SLP have come back with the remarkable news that Tom Davis is upset he got the chop, Tony Finn was just glad to have the chance to saunter around with his hands on his hips for a couple of seasons, and ex-Histon striker Jack Midson has ensured he will have to put up with several thousand Dons fans waving banknotes in his direction by turning down a Dons offer to sign for Oxford United instead…

Still no news on any other new signings, or pre-season games, and I’m starting to think the whole Isle of Man trip might turn out to be entirely fabricated a la Bradford Park Avenue in Spain last year. Expect a local waiter to bag a hat trick for us in the local 5-a-side centre and be bigged up as the legend he isn’t by the O/S…

Anyway I have spoiled you all slightly with my output over the last few weeks (some of which must have been at least quite interesting???), but I have some bad news…. unfortunately Mrs Anonymous Don has decided to return from her jaunt across the Atlantic (BOOOOOOOOOOO!) only about six weeks after I did but never mind, so for the next couple of weeks at least I may be expected to spend at least half of my spare time going on pointless walks, watching lame chick flicks, that kind of thing…

However I do get to make at least one suggestion of what to do this long weekend, so I have suggested we assist at the cleanup at Kingsmeadow. Amazingly she didn’t dismiss this out of hand, so hopefully an afternoon scrubbing graffiti off smelly urinals will learn her not to take extended holidays in future. As for me, well I deserve to put in a bit of graft to rebalance my Karma after chain-smoking my way through another season (I’ve given up now though, for two weeks, so give me a pat on the back…) and allowing some poor other chump to sweep them up. So if you’ve sat on your backside all season while someone else volunteers to clean up your crap, the least you could do is put a few hours graft in where it will be appreciated…

Full details on the O/S. So Ill see you there (possibly….). 

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