The manager's programme notes from tonight's game
It has been a busy last few weeks for us but I feel that we are continuing to make progress and definitely starting to pick up momentum as we come into an important part of the season.
Since I last wrote any notes we have had that excellent win over Accrington in our last home game, and then played very well at Rochdale, Wycombe and Barnet, with excellent wins in the last two games. It could so easily have been three wins in a row because our performance at Rochdale was good as well but we didn’t quite get the breaks or take the chances we had to win that particular match.
The key to our improvement is consistency in selection and consistent performances as a result. One or two big players have come back into the squad, while others have returned to the training pitch. That has meant raised standards out there and I think it has really shown in the matches as well. We have a lot of men still to come back and I think we are getting stronger and stronger as the season goes on.
Hopefully everyone in the stands can also see the momentum and belief growing among this bunch of players. Individual players are gaining in confidence all the time and we still have two thirds of the season to go. Our opponents on Saturday, Torquay, had 15 points from their first 15 games last season and ended up playing their last game with a chance of the last automatic promotion spot, so we are more than capable of getting ourselves up the table.
The picture can change pretty quickly in this, the tightest of the four divisions and I think the quality in League 2 is improving all the time. I saw Fleetwood signed Barry Ferguson, a Scotland international, last week so there is still plenty of ambition in this division and a lot of clubs still hopeful that they can put a run together and get in and amongst things, whatever their fan base or previous history. We are certainly capable of doing that ourselves and back-to-back home games this week give us a good opportunity to keep climbing the table, backed by your magnificent support.
I’d like to welcome John Still and his Dagenham side tonight. John is someone I respect a lot as a manager with a proven track record of building successful sides with perhaps untried players. They will be dangerous opponents tonight.
Away from first team matters for a moment, I went along last week to the FA Youth Cup game at Thame and I think we were all impressed by the way that Chris Allen’s youngsters played. They fully deserved their win and are going great guns right now. There is certainly a pathway for young players at this club with first team opportunities the goal, and striker James Roberts deserved his place on the bench on
Saturday. Hopefully he is the first of many more to come through here.
Finally on behalf of us all I’d like to wish Mickey Lewis and his wife Suzanne our warmest congratulations on the birth of their first child, son Zachery. Mickey has been a fantastic servant to this club and I know the fans love him and will want to wish him well. Ever since I came here he has been great to work with. He has an unbelievable work ethic and desire to do well for Oxford United and I am delighted for him and for Suzi with their new arrival.