Oxford v Pompey: The Insider’s verdict

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Last season represented a disappointing campaign for Oxford with a 13th-placed finish, however they actually ended it very well.

In fact, up until last weekend’s defeat at Northampton, Michael Appleton’s men had gone 14 matches unbeaten in League Two.

Michael Appleton

Michael Appleton

Putting that into context, it was their best run for 12 years and suddenly the momentum from last year has carried into this season.

Encouragingly, Appleton managed to get Kemar Roofe back to the club having played a big part on loan from West Brom the previous campaign.

He has five goals in seven games so far this season and is expected to return to the side having missed the defeat at Northampton with injury.

In addition, the home form has been a bugbear for two or three years, but already the U’s have beaten Notts County and Yeovil at the Kassam Stadium.

Perhaps it was inevitable they would lose at Northampton, who have off-field problems at the moment with fan protests before the game.

So tomorrow is quite a big game for Oxford and a chance to nip it in the bud having been such a long time undefeated. It is important they get something out of it.

Pompey fans will know Ryan Taylor joined Oxford in the summer from Fratton Park and he hasn’t scored yet, despite starting six of their nine matches.

What he has done is allow others around him to play well, such as Hylton and Roofe, but it is fair to say he is a little frustrated with his form.

It is taking Oxford a while to get the best out of him, as a result his performances have been mixed so far. He just needs a goal.

Taylor’s not really missing chances so is that more of a concern than if he was wasting opportunities? There’s something there but he needs a goal to get that off his mind,

Roofe has done brilliantly and carried on from where he left off last season, he has a real knack of scoring spectacular goals.

As for Hylton, he is a real maverick and when on it is as good as anything in this division – when they fire together they are very good to watch.

Elsewhere, Callum O’Dowda is a local lad coming on in leaps and bounds, while Liam Sercombe has been given a bit more licence to get forward than at Exeter and is relishing that.

Tomorrow he will be back in the team following suspension and he and Danny Rose have dovetailed quite nicely in the midfield of Appleton’s team.