Saturday 23rd November 2013 ko 15.00
OXFORD UNITED 3 (Constable 15 Rigg 24 Williams 31)
Att 4,871 (92 away)
Programme £3 (inc Oxford Mail)
For the first time this season you could feel the chill wind at Grenoble Road. Obviously the weather was the major quotient, but a sparse crowd, and poor home form were factors. In fact, with a growing injury list too it was easy to forget that Oxford United were and are top of League 2. Nothing I saw from 3pm onwards made me think that statistic was likely to change.
I can’t claim that United finally reproduced their away form at home, as so far I haven’t seen an away game this season! Fittingly James Constable opened the scoring, for goal 101 (or 104 if, like me you think the hat trick against Chester should count, the booking did!) his knee being in the right place at the right time after Michael Raynes’ header was only parried by Barry Roche in the Morecambe goal.
That header was from a beautifully flighted David Hunt free-kick, and it was the full-back’s glorious diagonal ball found Ryan Williams on the right who beat Tony Diagne dismissively before squaring back for Sean Rigg to finish at the back post.
Morecambe simply couldn’t retain possession, which restricted veteran striker Kevin Ellison to one chance, well saved by Ryan Clarke. Ellison’s frustration was taken out on the water bottles when he was withdrawn mid-way through the second half.
Meanwhile pulling all the strings was Dave Kitson. He’d had a good result at the FA being fined a mere £350 for his comments on referee Mark Brown after the Bristol Rovers game. That for my money is a tacit agreement from the FA that the forward’s comments were correct. I note that Brown was in charge at Rotherham during this game, sending off Carlisle’s Conor Townsend.
It seems that finally his team-mates have finally tuned into Kitson’s wavelength, and the chief beneficiaries were wingers Rigg and Williams. So keen to avoid the ex-Portsmouth man were Morecambe than they attempted a suicidal pass across the back four. That was snaffled up by Asa Hall who quickly found Williams with a deft stab over the full back. Williams raced through and his cushioned lob over Roche produced a smile on the faces on all but 92 present.
The second half saw United shut up shop. Jack Sampson hit the post for the visitors but United played out time with Kitson roaming in that zone of uncertainty between the opposition’s defence and midfield and causing panic in Morecambe hearts every time he touched the ball.
There was only one worry all afternoon, another injury to add to the legion already in the treatment room, this one to Sean Rigg. He stretched going for a shot, and limped off with a hamstring injury. His loss is young Callum O’Dowda’s opportunity, although I suspect Chris Wilder will opt for Scott Davies on Tuesday at home to Newport, as he can tuck in, giving more solidity to the midfield, particularly if the returning Adam Chapman plays to his ability.
To finish I’d like to wish a former triallist Dylan McGlade a speedy recovery from injury. McGlade played in friendlies at Truro and Didcot, report here, this pre-season before returning to Ireland. He’s broken his ankle and ruptured ligaments, and will be out of the rest of the season.