This week has been a cup competition spectacular for Oxford after they put Premier League Swansea and League One Millwall to the sword.
However, Michael Appleton’s men must switch their focus back to the league in a promotion face-off with divisional rivals Bristol Rovers on Sunday.
As an Oxford United supporter, it’s been a whirlwind of a season to say the least. We’ve seen great performances, players and moments in what has been a tremendous season so far.
It’s been a roller-coaster of a week, in which I’ve seen more media coverage surrounding the club than ever before. To defeat two higher league opponents in the space of three days was great but the way we did it was special.
We controlled the Swansea game and in my opinion 3-2 wasn’t a fair scoreline, it could have been a lot worse for Swansea. The first half display at Millwall was simply picking up from where we left off, racing into a 2-0 advantage, before showing defensive resilience in the second half to preserve the lead.
Oxford have had a mixed bag of results against Bristol Rovers over the past few years. It’s produced some immense highs and some disappointing lows.
United’s 6-1 thrashing of Rovers in the League Cup in 2010 and our 1-0 away victory earlier in the campaign stick in the memory as great moments.
It is a pretty even record making this one a tough one to call. Oxford and Rovers have both beaten each other 18 times with 13 times this fixture producing a draw.
Michael Appleton will have a selection headache on his hands ahead of this one, especially in the goalkeeping department. Sam Slocombe and Benji Buchel have been fighting over the number one jersey all season and it’s probably the one position in the team that Appleton is still yet to decide what his best option is.
Slocombe has been back between the sticks in the previous four league games and done a solid – although relatively uneventful – job but after Buchel put in an impressive display against Millwall in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, Michael Appleton certainly has some thinking to do.
The rest of the team will be relatively straight forward and pretty much the same team we fielded against Swansea on Sunday. Players like Kemar Roofe, George Baldock and John Lundstram will be looking to continue their fantastic recent form after a string of 10/10 displays.
As for Bristol Rovers, Darrell Clarke has to select a team that’s capable of recovering from last week’s disappointing defeat to ten man Barnet.
They will be boosted by the permanent addition of prolific centre forward Rory Gaffney. The battling Irishman, chaser of lost causes and scorer of crucial goals will be a welcome addition to a team who perhaps need an injection of goals, especially after a game against Barnet in which they’ll still be wondering how they didn’t put the ball in the net.
As for predictions, after Oxford’s recent form it’s difficult to look beyond my beloved team at the moment. Baldock will cause havoc bombing down from the right, Lundstram will cut them open with defence splitting passes and Roofe will tie the centre halves in knots with his silky skills.
I’ll go a for 2-0 Oxford win.