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Saturday 20th October 2012 ko 15.00

League 2

OXFORD UNITED 5 (Craddock 13 23 36 71 Potter 78)

ACCRINGTON STANLEY 0

Att 5,403 (96 away)

Entry S/T

Programme £3

I have to say I have a soft spot for Stanley. Their banner says it all, “The club that refused to die,”  rising from bankrupcy and oblivion, to a return to League football in 2006. It’s not lost on Oxford United fans that when Accrington folded in 1966, then  returned to the League, on both occasions it was Oxford United that swapped places with them! For those of us of a certain age, Accrington was imortalised in a famous advert for milk…

To the club’s credit, Carl Rice the actor in the advert, was guest of honour at Accrington’s home game against Forest Green Rovers during their Conference winning season. I was fortunate enough to be there! Today, Stanley are a benchmark for small clubs, surviving in the league despite the close presence of two much larger clubs locally, namely Blackburn and Bolton.

With Stanley 11th and Oxford 19th, you wouldn’t have predicted a drubbing like this! A few hours after the event I’m still trying to work out was it a case of United being excellent, or Stanley quite royally stinking? I suspect its a mixture of the both. Certainly a move to 4-4-2 suited the personel available to Chris Wilder, and in particular James Constable revelled in the service he got from the flanks where Alfie Potter and Sean Rigg had excellent games. The knock-downs from Constable were manna from heaven for Tom Craddock, and I’d point out that 3 of the 4 goals he scored were teed up by Constable (the other by Rigg). Craddock had, its perhaps superfluous to say, his best game for the club, working hard, closing down and taking the chances when they came. His goals were as predatory as they were welcome.

But the most welcome sight was a grinning Brummie making his first start of the season after injury. Yes, the warrior was back, and the defence looked all the more solid with Andy Whing there to marshall it. His departure, utterly exhausted in the 81st minute produced a spine-tingling standing ovation. That was the second remarkable crowd reaction, as a few minutes earlier when Craddock had scored his fourth, the chant had been “Beano, Beano,” a comment on how the talismanic Constable had unselfishly worked to give Craddock his chances.

But it was Tom Craddock, quite correctly, who took the plaudits,  and became the first Oxford United player to score 4 goals in a game since John Durnin did at the Manor Ground against Luton Town in 1992. For the record, I was at that game too!