Good evening everyone and welcome to tonight’s game against Bradford City. Stuart McCall is such an experienced Manager and over the past few years has built a strong squad that will definitely be in the promotion race this season, so it is a chance for us to test how far we have come in just a few weeks and measure ourselves against one of the best sides in the league.
I think that Saturday’s performance against Gillingham confirmed that we are heading in the right direction. They had one very good chance right at the start of the game but after that I thought we dominated the whole match. We had to be a little patient in the first half but that is understandable when the other team put eight men behind the ball and try to frustrate you.
We spoke at half-time about not rushing the pass to try and chase that first goal and then we scored nice and early which gave us a little breathing space. There was some excellent approach play in all three of our goals and I was pleased to see the team working for each other and making runs to create space for others.
In the end, we should probably have scored more goals but that’s the second time this season that we have scored three goals in the second half, which I think shows the fitness and the mental strength of this group. We have spoken a few times now about taking small steps, but it seems that we are improving with each game and now our task is to keep that going tonight and beyond. We are in a decent league position just as the table starts to make a little sense but we have achieved nothing yet and know we need to keep working hard to maintain the standards we have set.
Obviously, this is a busy time in the season and playing two games so close together is a physical challenge. We are waiting to see what Christian Ribeiro did to his knee in the warm-up on Saturday, but Canice Carroll deserves a special mention for stepping in at the last minute and rounding off a week where he captained his country at under-19 level with a very mature performance. We also have Mike Williamson available again; he missed a couple of days training towards the back of last week due to the arrival of his baby, Gray. Gino Van Kessel also became a father last week so our congratulations go to them and their partners. This is a great family club and the Oxford United family continues to grow.
Finally, night games seem to have a unique atmosphere and always produce extra drama so please play your part once more. You make a huge difference, so get behind us and help us get another important win.
You can read the full programme online at www.matchdayfix.com/oufc