Read Darryl Eales' programme notes against the Minstermen
Good evening and welcome to everyone to tonight's game against York City.
I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to Jason McGill, his family, and all fans, players and officials from York. Jason is a great host when we visit York and we wish them well for the remainder of the campaign.
The past two weeks have epitomised the roller coaster that is football - and the spirit, togetherness and resilience which is what this club is all about!
Without doubt, we all had a tough weekend following the defeat against Accrington. The critical thing in life, let alone sport, is not what happens, but how you respond to what happens. Led by Michael, there was a brutally honest evaluation of where we are and the good, the bad and the ugly of recent performances. Most importantly, this hard-nosed analysis showed the maturity and honesty of the whole group and is characterised by a burning desire to finish the job this season.
Since then, we have achieved back-to-back victories against Exeter and AFC Wimbledon with two performances based on the qualities which have been the foundation of our season: a high-tempo pressing game, defending from the front, dominating second balls - and using this as the platform to play our mobile, possession-based passing game.
At Exeter, we got our noses in front early and consolidated the result early in the second half. This was the fifth time this season we have scored four or more goals away from home - a remarkable statistic. This was matched by the 300-plus fans who made the journey - just amazing and thanks to Exeter too for the pies!
This was followed by a ‘bodies on the line’ performance at Wimbledon where the team spirit shone through, accompanied by our usual fantastic support and capped by a wonderful Jordan Bowery goal.
As we move into the run in, I suspect there will be more 'Wimbledon' type games, with most teams fighting for play-offs or survival and, I am sure, tonight will be no exception.
Last week, we welcomed George Waring to the squad. George is highly regarded by Stoke and it is testimony to our coaching set up, culture and playing philosophy that clubs trust us to develop and nurture their talented youngsters. George Baldock, Jordan Graham and Jonjoe Kenny are similar examples and I am delighted we have also been able to extend Jonjoe's loan with us.
While the league now has our full focus on the pitch, we are trying to ensure Wembley is a day to remember. We have had great support from Chiltern Railways and the Oxford Bus Company and it is fantastic that the Oxford Bus Company have also become sponsors of our WSL team!
On the merchandising front, we have a great range of memorabilia in the shop, including a variety of special t-shirt and polo shirt designs. Please take time to visit the shop - it's worth it.
Tickets sales for Wembley are over 28,000. This week, in conjunction with the Oxford Mail, we are launching a poster campaign and hopefully factories, offices, schools, shops, etc. will join in and promote the occasion and encourage as many as possible from across the county to join us at the home of football.
This weekend sees us visit Plymouth Argyle. We are both enjoying good seasons and it will be another tough test. The game is centre piece of the Plymouth weekender for fans and I hope to see many of you on Friday evening.
Enjoy the game this evening and get behind the team.