Friday, 1 February 2013

PREVIEW: Southend United Away (02/02/13)

While Oxford's deadline day shenanigans may have put a lot of people off the idea of going to Southend to support the club, it would be a shame to allow so much hard work to go to waste. The team who have worked tirelessly to promote the successful Ultimate Support Saturday events have outdone themselves once again to bring us the first Ultimate Support Away Day.

The premise should be familiar to anyone who remembers previous Ultimate Support events: get as many fans along to the game as possible, create as much noise and colour as possible and cheer the team on to victory. It's worked before at home and it can work again on the road as Oxford try and reel in promotion rivals Southend. A win on Saturday will bring us within one point of the Shrimpers, who currently occupy the final play-off slot.

It may be more than nine years since our last win at Roots Hall, but Southend are looking far from invincible at the moment. A win over Chesterfield last weekend was their first in the league this year, having lost their previous three against Exeter, Gillingham and Burton. Southend manager Paul Sturrock has done is own share of wheeling and dealing during the transfer window, with former Dagenham defender Michael Spillane making his debut against Chesterfield as Southend kept their first clean sheet of 2013. Another new signing likely to start for Southend is 21-year-old Southampton loanee Ben Reeves, who has featured for the Saints in the Premier League this season.

As for us, the big team news is of course the debut of goalkeeper Luke McCormick. Expect him to come in for special attention from the home fans (and possibly from a section of the away fans as well). Wilder has something of a selection dilemma up front, with new signing Justin Richards in contention alongside James Constable and Tom Craddock. And of course, there will definitely be one enforced change at the back, after Michael Duberry hobbled off against Burton. Expect Michael Raynes to replace him.

The match is an early opportunity for revenge for the yellows, less than a month after the two sides met in the JPT with Southend eventually emerging victorious after a penalty shoot-out. More importantly though, it was Oxford who came out on top when the two sides last met in the league way back in August with an impressive 2-0 win to secure a first victory over the Shrimpers in eight attempts. Let's hope we can do a League Two double over them and reward the Ultimate Support Away Dayers. Be there and BRING THE NOISE.

Also This Weekend

The ladies side face a huge test this weekend, as they travel to Charlton Athletic in the third round of the FA Women's Cup. The Addicks are currently fifth in the Premier League National Division (the second tier of women's football behind the professional WSL – two levels above OULFC). The ladies were knocked out of the competition at this stage last season by Manchester City and a win this weekend would be the furthest they have ever progressed in the competition.

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