A season that many of us chose to write off weeks ago now appears to have some life in it after all! Tuesday's narrow victory over Barnet thanks to an injury time header from Michael Raynes made it five wins from the last seven for United and 16 points from a possible 21. The gap between us and the play-offs is now just five points and with eight games still to play everything is still very much up for grabs.
Chesterfield may also harbour an outside chance of claiming the final play-off spot. Currently 12th, they will need to bridge a ten-point gap to get there and matches like this have to be considered must-win for them. But the Spireites have been inconsistent all season and that hasn't shown much sign of changing recently, with a 1-0 defeat to Cheltenham sandwiched in between wins over Bristol Rovers and Dagenham & Redbridge. And manager Paul Cook seems likely to keep faith with the side which beat Bristol Rovers 2-0 last weekend thanks to goals from Jay O'Shea and the Ivorian Armand Gnanduillet – there's a player that Radio Oxford's Nick Harris will hope isn't playing!
Liam Davis could return to the side after recovering from illness which ruled him out last weekend, coming off the bench on Tuesday. And Jon-Paul Pittman could be available for selection again after missing most of the season through injury. One player who will definitely be missing is Max Crocombe, who has joined the New Zealand under-20s side in Fiji for the U20 World Cup qualifiers.
Several members of the current United side count Chesterfield among their former clubs. Andy Whing spent a brief spell on loan at Saltergate during the 2009-10 season and Peter Leven (who obviously won't feature this weekend) impressed at Chesterfield in his first season in England. Perhaps most notably, Deane Smalley chose Oxford over Chesterfield after helping them gain promotion from League Two in 2010-11 and although he has failed to replicate that form here, there is a good chance that he will feature in some capacity this weekend.
The last time the two sides met was back in November when two controversial goals handed Chesterfield the points, but prior to that occasion we hadn't been beaten by Chesterfield since 1996 – mainly because the two sides hadn't met much in the intervening time. It had been more than a decade since we last travelled to Chesterfield when a struggling Oxford side claimed a surprise 2-1 win over top-of-the-league Spireites in our first visit to their new stadium in November 2010. That was followed by a 0-0 draw at the Kassam later that year, meaning that Chesterfield haven't won in Oxford since 1980. Let's hope that run continues this weekend.
From the Vaults
Oxford United v Chesterfield, 12th August 1995
Oxford kicked off the 95-96 season with high hopes of promotion once again after disappointingly falling short the previous year. The opponents on the opening day of the season were newly-promoted Chesterfield and Oxford appeared to be stuttering to a drab 0-0 draw until Chrissy Allen's effort late in the game. We all love a last-minute winner, don't we?
Also This Weekend
Of course the other big story for Oxford United this weekend is the ladies team's HUGE match against professional WSL side Everton at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday. In an effort to drum up as much support as possible the match has been designated 'Ultimate Support Ladies Day' and tickets are only £5. Be there and help support the ladies to an incredible cup win, as well as boosting the WSL 2014 bid! We'll have plenty more about this on TBFUTH over the weekend.