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Can Oxford United maintain their charge to the Football League?

7 October 2009 by leewilson

In February 2009, Burton Albion held a 19 point lead at the top of the Blue Square Premier. Their lead looked so secure that bookmakers had already paid out on them winning promotion to League Two. Yet going into the final day of the season, Burton needed a point against high flying Torquay United to guarantee their Football League status. In fact, they lost 2-1 to suffer their 5th defeat in six matches. Thankfully, Cambridge United’s failure to beat relegation threatened Altrincham Town saw Burton creep over the finishing line by the narrowest of margins.

This lesson alone dictates why Oxford United should by no means be anticipating a return to the Football League just yet. Although they have made a fantastic start with 36 points from a possible 45, their most recent 1-1 away draw to struggling Barrow proves that football is a game of ups and downs.

It was only three seasons ago that Oxford suffered heartbreak when poised to finish top of the then named Nationwide Conference. After 44 years as a Football League club, Oxford United was relegated to the top division of non league football in 2006.

Jim Smith couldn't keep his beloved Oxford United in the Football League

An instant return to League Two was expected and manager Jim Smith saw them to a fantastic start with fourteen wins and eight draws in their opening 25 matches. However, a run of eleven games without a win starting in November combined with the excellent form of unfancied Dagenham and Redbridge FC consigned Oxford to a devastating 2nd place finish. Although they still had the opportunity of promotion via the play offs, the belief has evaporated and they were defeated soundly in the semi finals.

Even so, these days the personnel around the club are largely different as manager Chris Wilder attempts to lead The U’s to the title. Wilder’s non league pedigree is excellent after six seasons in charge of Halifax Town which saw him nearly lead them to promotion on several occasions. His introduction as Oxford manager half way through the previous campaign spurred the team on to an impressive 15 wins in 21 matches that saw the club just miss out on the play offs. Without a doubt, Wilder is the right manager for the job!

Chris Wilder will hope to see League football at the Kassam Stadium in 2010!

Despite their excellent start, there are several teams in the Blue Square Premier who will be hoping for a repeat of Oxford’s 2006/07 collapse. Established promotion chasers Stevenage, York and Mansfield will be attempting to close the gap as always whilst Luton Town are hoping to bounce back to the Football League at the first attempt. The Hatters have recently sacked Mick Harford after a poor run of form so will be hoping that a new manager sparks a long run of form. Last season’s Play off Final losers Cambridge will also be hoping to claw their way up the table after early season managerial problems see them currently stuck in mid table.

Whatever happens, the race for promotion is sure to go right down to the wire!

One Comment »

  • liam said:

    you are doing well,you have to watch out for my team kettering town though we are closing in on you and we have won 5 in a row,ktfc for football league,oxford for playoffs UP THE POPPIES!

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