With the first quarter of the season gone Oxford can look back at a positive start to the campaign. There have been many high points already, most notably of course being the trip down the A420. The result from the derby match will stick in the minds of U’s fans for a long time, well, at least until March when the return fixture comes around. Despite the opening match, where I’m sure a lot of fans instantly feared a long hard season ahead after the lacklustre performance at Rotherham, we have made a solid start and the eight game unbeaten streak has helped the U’s establish themselves in the promotion hunt and get to the quarter finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
That’s right, for the first time in a very long time we are not only having a decent run in the league but have also progressed to the Quarter Finals of a cup competition. Yes, we may have had a bye into the second round, and yes the quarter finals are actually just the third round but the fact still remains Oxford are just three games from Wembley. Did you know Oxford have a 100% win record at the national stadium (2 out of 2).
The new players Chris Wilder has drafted in have been decent signings, most notably Michael Duberry and Peter Leven. Dubes has brought a touch of class and a wealth of experience to the back line and is surely an early candidate for player of the season. Leven had a troubled start with injury, but is now starting to show why he was wanted by Championship clubs in the summer. The best bit being that we finally have a set piece taker for the first time since Dean Whitehead left the club. I was slightly disappointed to see Jack Midson go in the summer, even more so now he’s top goalscorer in the league, but in his departure we have realised the potential of pint-sized Alfie Potter. Little Potter has become more than just an impact sub. He is a key player and one that could attract a lot of interest come January.
However the star of the show at the moment is Robbie Hall. On loan from West Ham, he is fast becoming a fans favourite with his surging runs and impressive goal tally. Six goals in nine games including two against basement boys Plymouth on Tuesday night has put him just one behind James Constable.
Despite a very positive start the one criticism from the fans so far has been the inability to kill teams off, mainly when the opposition have a man sent off. That has been the case in a few matches this season where the opposition goes down to 10 but then fights back and snatches a point. So there was no chance at Gillingham on Saturday. At 1-0 down we then faced an uphill battle as they went down, not just to 10 men, but later on to nine.
United now appear to be sorting it out at home and, with the wins against Plymouth, and Bristol Rovers a couple of weeks back we could see the Kassam Stadium turning back into a fortress. Coupled with our away form and we have got a team that could very well be challenging for promotion come the end of the season.
The question now on every Oxford fan’s lips is: Do we keep this up for the whole season or come Christmas time start falling away from the promotion pack?
I am cautiously optimistic that it could be the former.
Written by Mickey Cosier, We Are Going Up’s Oxford United blogger
Mickey tweets @MickeyCosier