City may have been somewhat fortunate to leave Mansfield with all three points, but a win’s a win and the victory that keeps City in the thick of the play-off hunt will also have proven a tonic to the team’s confidence after a shaky month. Paul Tisdale brought back two proper “centre backs” to fulfil the role alongside Matt Oakley, and Scot Bennett and Jordan Moore-Taylor will hope to continue in the role, although new signing Jamie McAllister could make his debut.
Christian Ribeiro missed the trip to Mansfield having picked up an injury in training, but Tisdale will hope this injury isn’t enough to keep him out of the side for long, although Arron Davies performed admirably in the right wing-back role last week. Tisdale continues to have a selection dilemma around which of his teenage goalkeepers to select, with Christy Pym pushing hard for a recall.
It has been a stop-start season to say the least for Oxford. Michael Appleton’s side is clearly capable of some fine results – including a 2-1 win away to that lot down the A38 – but the Us have been dogged by inconsistency and go into Saturday’s visit of the Grecians in 17th place having lost two and drawn one in 2015 so far. Nearly 30 players have been used by Appleton with nobody having started every match, so consistency of line-up could be contributing to a poor season. Danny Hylton will be the one to watch, the former Aldershot striker has 13 goals to his name so far although he has registered just once in his last twelve appearances. Will Hoskins finally returned to the side after injury a couple of weeks back and will hope to return to the sort of scoring form he displayed when he was at Bristol Rovers.
The reverse fixture back in September heralded the start of City’s meteoric rise up the table, as the bottom sides in the division fought out a 1-1 draw. City took an early lead through a Graham Cummins penalty but were immediately pegged back by Callum O’Dowda’s equaliser. The corresponding fixture last season saw a 0-0 draw marked mostly by Dave Kitson playing like a bear with a sore head all night, eventually and not before time earning himself a red card in the dying stages. City have an excellent league head to head record with 15 wins to Oxford’s 7 (13 draws).
Highlights from last season’s match