Oxford United 0-0 Accrington Stanley
It was billed as a historic day: Oxford and Accrington's first ever meeting. A pair of yo-yo clubs, who had passed each other like lost souls in the football league revolving door, finally got to celebrate their joint football league status and firmly embrace on the pitch. Kindred spirits who had tasted the despair and joy of regulation and promotion from and to the football league - twice at the expense of each other. The two sides of the coin. The Light Side and the Dark Side. Blah, blah, blah...
Here are the highlights if you want to waste another few minutes of your time - it wasn't a very good game. In fact, it was dreadful. Absolutely NOTHING happened.
Matt Green and Constable both looked tired - physically and mentally. Green in particular was woeful first half. It was no surprise that Potter replaced him in the second half, and yet again Alfie showed the ability to keep ball - a trait that many of the other Oxford players sadly lacked. Midson was yet again the most effective of the starting front three, competing for the ball, holding it up well and demonstrating a high work rate. Why Mister Wilder decided to take him off and leave the struggling Constable on raised eyebrows in our section of the ground - Midson is looking more and more like a quality all round front man and leader of the line... unlike Cole who is yet to impress.
Accrington were tenacious in midfield, closing down quickly and restricting space. Once they had the ball they kept it well and this is something we have to learn quickly - we cannot give the ball away cheaply like we did at times in the BSBP and expect to get it back without a fight or punishment. Hall's work rate wasn't good enough and as a result Bulman and Heslop were overrun. We were begging out for Clist at the end...
At the back we are undoubtedly going to miss Batt - although Purkiss did a decent job defensively, he does not give us that relentless drive forward from the back and the progressive attacking outlet that Batt does. Another right back option - perhaps a short-term loan signing - before the transfer deadline would have been welcome. On the positive side, Clarke, Tonkin and Worley did well again, but it was the performance of Jake Wright that was the stand-out of the day. Wright continues to look Rolls Royce at this level and once again he was the right man in the right place at the right time, saving Oxford time after time when Accrington threatened to spoil the third clean sheet of the season. Watch the highlights again and keep an eye on Wright - three times in the 1st 53 seconds he is the key man covering back. If he stays fit and develops Worley next to him, I think we could see Oxford delivering one of the meanest goal against ratios of the league.
We just need a few goals - so I'm pleased to see Tom Craddock join us this evening.
It was a historic game for another reason too: my 4 year old son's first ever match. He was utterly bored after 40 minutes. Thank goodness for crisps, sweets, Mars bars, iPhones and Shrek Kart racing. A drab nil-nil. A fitting start to his life-long obsession with the club.