Pompey v Oxford: the opposition view

These have been eventful times at Oxford United since Michael Appleton's departure in June.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 25th March 2018, 2:00 pm
Oxfords James Henry in action against Peterborough
Oxfords James Henry in action against Peterborough

Under the ex-Pompey boss, the U’s last season saw them finish eighth – three points from the League One play-offs – and reach Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Then he left for the assistant manager’s job at Leicester.

It marked a summer of upheaval, with Pep Clotet arriving and bringing in players from overseas he had worked with in the past.

Oxfords James Henry in action against Peterborough

It was an excellent start, including victory over Pompey, as Oxford lost one of their opening seven league matches. They also spent the first half of the campaign mostly in the top 10.

When they clicked they were very good, but fragile as well, losing 7-0 at home to Wigan in December.

It wasn’t a particularly happy camp and Clotet’s last match was a Kassam Stadium defeat to struggling Bury.

Derek Fazackerley then took over as caretaker boss for a two-month stint which produced two wins in eight matches.

Oxfords James Henry in action against Peterborough

The reason for the delay in appointing Clotet’s replacement has been down to a takeover.

The old board embarked on the process of finding a replacement and got to the point of giving Craig Bellamy the job.

However, with the takeover being finalised, it was a case of holding fire with the new owner, Thai businessman Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth, understandably wanting his own man.

Under Fazackerley, the team played better than results suggest.

Beating Peterborough last weekend was absolutely massive. If they had lost and results gone against them, they could be heading to Fratton Park in the bottom four.

Our best player this year has been Jack Payne, but he was recalled by Huddersfield in January and has since joined Blackburn on loan.

Another who has impressed in James Henry, who’s had a good last couple of months and played under Pompey boss Kenny Jackett at Wolves and Millwall.

He has been shunted around quite a lot, but recently has served in his preferred number 10 role and been brilliant. He scored one and made one in the 2-1 win over Peterborough.

Goalkeeper Simon Eastwood is very popular here and a Barnsley bid was turned down in January.

Top scorer is Wes Thomas, with 10 goals, but he hasn’t netted in the league since New Year’s Day. His season’s been a little stop-start with injuries, but when fit is still dangerous at this level.