Tuesday 6th November 2012 ko 19.45
OXFORD UNITED 2 (Craddock 60 65)
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE 3 (Williams 36 Howell 54 Wilkinson 62) Maher sent off 70 (2nd booking)
Att 5,074 (77 away)
Programme £3 (including Oxford Mail)
For Oxford United’s season it’s very much a case of one step forward, then another back. After heartening wins at Wycombe, and Barnet this should have been a routine home win against a side debating whether to play a semi-fit goalkeeper Chris Lewington, or risk his 18-year-old understudy Jordan Seabright. John Still opted for Lewington, and it speaks volumes for Oxford United’s attacking presence that you didn’t realise there was a potential problem.
Where I sit, we have an in-joke that Oxford never score from a corner. Leaving aside James Constable’s goal at Barnet on Saturday (away goals don’t count we decided!) United have developed a real issue with defending set plays, and on this evening in particular, corners. Sam Williams headed home unopposed from the Daggers second corner, and the winner came in a similar fashion, this time it was Luke Wilkinson supplying the header. Add to that Luke Howell’s beating a leaden-footed Michael Raynes to a rebound from the crossbar after the excellent Dwight Gayle’s shot, and you are analysing a game that could, and should have been won. Did Oxford United look any more likely to win when Kevin Maher was sent off for collecting the only two cards issued to the Daggers’ team?
The dichotomy of it all that, is that the best OUFC player Sean Rigg got no goals, but the worst forward, Tom Craddock got two! Still if Craddock can play badly and score twice, I for one will have no issue. It reminds me of a lad at school who used to tell me an Oxford United forward was rubbish because, “All he does is tap the ball in from 2 yards out.” I used to reply, “Yes, around 30 times a season!” The forward’s name? John Aldridge! Those days are long gone, sadly.
On Saturday I watched United dispatch a side in Barnet I thought destined for relegation. Tonight they beat a side, Torquay who have real ambitions for promotion with Gulls manager complaining that player-coach Edgar Davids is getting special treatment! Not a division to stake money on is League 2!
Back in Oxford, this was a Conference game in all but name, and did remind me of OUFC’s stint a divison below. Frantic, and oddly watchable, in a car-crash kind of a way.
You wonder what sort of performance we’ll see when United take on, yes Torquay at Grenoble Road. Either way, this was a highly disappointing night against a club who admit to struggle with the financial and footballing necessities of League football. Oxford United are better than that, aren’t they?