"We are two games away from Wembley"
Good evening everyone and welcome back for a second go at this Checkatrade Trophy quarter final. Obviously, many of you were here a week ago and were left just as frustrated as we were by the postponement. I have no problem with the decision: the pitch was unplayable and the referee had no choice in the matter. Stuart McCall and his players had made a long journey and have my sympathy and that extends to the fans as well. Whether you were in the home or away end last Tuesday you paid your money and took the time to come out on a cold evening to watch your team. Hopefully you get a great game tonight as a reward.
Football moves on so quickly and plenty has happened over the last seven days. First came the signing of Toni Martinez on loan from West Ham. Toni is a very talented forward who has a physical presence about him, makes good runs and has scored plenty of goals at every level he has played. I know West Ham see him as one for the future and I’d like to thank them for giving us the opportunity to work with him and hopefully see him develop over the next few months. His arrival means that Ryan Taylor has moved on, joining Plymouth Argyle. Ryan is a good pro and we hope the move works well for him.
Toni made quite an impact when he came on as a sub against Newcastle on Saturday. What a fantastic afternoon that turned out to be for everyone involved with Oxford United. We really appreciate the way you got behind us and the support you gave us. It was one of the best atmospheres I can remember here and really drove us forward, especially in the second half.
I said in the build-up that Simon Eastwood would have to be Man of the Match and every other player be at least a 9/10 in the ratings. I wish I’d done the lottery that night because it proved to be true! Easty made two very good saves just before the break and then the penalty save proved to be the key moment and knocked the stuffing out of Newcastle. It was good to get three goals from set pieces we had worked on and I thought there were some truly outstanding performances.
The biggest thing, by far, is how we react and respond this evening. It was such a high to win on Saturday and we are well aware that the atmosphere tonight is likely to be a world away from that full house in the FA Cup. That shouldn’t matter at all. We will prepare just as thoroughly as we always do and ask the players to give everything they have once more. We are two games away from Wembley: that’s something that every player dreams of and one we will not throw away with a below-par performance.
Like I said seven days ago, it’s a big week with three games in three competitions. We made a great start, now let’s carry that on and win the next one.
Enjoy the game.