'It’s another chance to show people what a strong team we are'
A chance to show what we can do
Good afternoon and welcome back as we take on AFC Wimbledon. Obviously they have mirrored our own achievements and it will be good to test ourselves against them in League 1 rather than League 2 this season.
It has been a while since we last played at home, with three away games following our draw with Charlton. We should maybe have taken all three points from that match but went behind to a harsh-looking penalty and then had to show character to come back and get a point. We did so thanks to a very good team goal that saw Kane Hemmings set up Chris Maguire for the equaliser.
A few days later Kane got our goal down at Southend but once again we fell victim to a penalty decision that was maybe even harder to take. I make it a point not to try and criticise officials; they have a very tough job and are under increasing scrutiny as technology advances, but again we showed spirit to come back and try and get something out of the game. We had very presentable chances and should have got greater reward for our efforts.
It meant that we were still looking for a first away win despite playing well on the road in every game so far. I think the fans were more concerned about it than we were because the signs were there that we were competing and always in the match, home or away. It was therefore good to have that confirmed with a fantastic away win last Saturday at Bolton.
That is a big stadium and club. Someone told me that a few years ago Bolton were playing there in the Premier League on the same day that Oxford were taking on Barrow in the Conference. I think we showed just how far we have come by taking 1,300 fans to Bolton, and those fans gave us magnificent support. The players responded and I think the better team won on the day. We stayed patient, defended well when we had to and were clinical when chances came our way. It was as good an away performance as we have had since I came to the club.
Three days later we switched competitions and made a few changes for the Checkatrade Trophy game at Swindon. It doesn’t matter what competition it is, when Oxford play Swindon the motivation is always going to be there and we asked the players who came into the side to give it their all and seize their opportunity. I cannot fault the desire from any one of them because I thought it was a terrific performance and to draw a game after playing for almost an hour with ten men was a great effort.
Fortunately, we have had an extra day to rest up and prepare for today so we will be ready and fully prepared. We welcome the Sky cameras along and will be looking to put in a good performance for everyone here and for the people watching at home. It’s another chance to show people what a strong team we are, and that the club is heading in the right direction on and off the field.
Enjoy the game,