Oxford Match Preview
by, 23-07-2009 at 03:33 PM (297 Views)
All my work is published on www.wearetherangersboys.com
Friday 24th July 2009
The Kassam Stadium
Oxford United V Queens Park Rangers
Well, it has certainly been an eventful week at Loftus Road. First, after months of speculation on the message boards and in the newspapers, the departure of Dexter Blackstock to Nottingham Forest was confirmed. Then, to my surprise, it was announced that Adel Taraabt, the skilful Tottenham midfielder who spent the final few weeks of last season at Loftus Road, has signed for the whole of the next campaign. As impressive as Rangersí midfield now looks, the team is still in desperate need of a new striker, especially after the selling of Blackstock. Surely Magilton and Gorman realise this? I do hope so.
Queens Park Rangers fans will have another chance to see their team in action ahead of the new season when they face Oxford United. Thatís right, Oxford United. Even after so many years, memories linger of that horrible day in 1986 when the Hoops were played off the park in the Milk Cup final. For that reason, as silly as it may sound, I am sure Rs supporters would like to see Magiltonís side give United a good thrashing on Friday night.
The last decade has been a miserable one for Oxford United. In 2006 the club became the first former winners of a major trophy to be relegated to the Conference. Under Jim Smith, it did look like the Us would gain promotion at the first time of asking, but a dip in form saw the team drop down into second place, eventually being knocked out in the play-offs. The 2007-08 campaign was also a disappointing one. After Smith resigned, the team sank into mid-table mediocrity and had to settle for a 9th place finish.
Last season started badly for the Yellows and a new manager was appointed Ė Chris Wilder, the former boss of Halifax Town. Things improved on the pitch and at one point a promotion challenge didnít seem out of the question. In the end Oxford just missed out on the top six, finishing in 7th position, although they would have gained a play-off place had they not suffered a point deduction for fielding an unregistered player.
United expect to be among the promotion contenders next season and therefore it is important that they make the most of their pre-season friendlies. Chris Wilder will certainly be demanding a decent performance from his team on Friday night when they face Championship opposition.
Men to watch
Striker, James Constable, could be a threat to Queens Park Rangers on Friday evening. The 24 year-old joined Oxford on loan from Shrewsbury last season and netted an impressive total of 23 goals in 42 appearances. The Us signed Constable on a permanent deal during the summer and it looks like he will be key to the teamís promotion bid next season. Constable is clinical in front of goal Ė definitely one to watch tomorrow night.
Alex Rhodes could partner Constable in attack. Another of Oxfordís summer signings, the 27 year-old has a lot of Football League experience from spells with Rotherham United and Bradford City. He tends to play just behind the main striker on the left-hand side.
In central midfield, Adam Murray could be selected in the starting line-up. Murray joined Oxford United in 2008 and has since established himself as a first-team regular. A player who offers experience and leadership qualities in the middle of the park, the 27 year-old will be an important part of Unitedís squad for next season.
Adam Chapman could play alongside Murray in the heart of midfield. The 19 year-old began his career with Sheffield United, but joined Oxford on loan for the majority of last season. United completed the signing of Chapman this summer for a fee of £15,000.
Luke Foster will probably play in central defence on Friday night. The 23 year-old has made himself popular with the supporters as a result of some very solid defensive displays. His performances were rewarded with the Player of the Year award for the 2007-08 season. Foster played an important role for United last season as well and will be hoping to continue his good form into the next campaign.
Goalkeeper, Billy Turley, could be selected by Chris Wilder. The 36 year-old has spent his entire career playing in the lower divisions of the English football system. In 2004, during his time with Rushden and Diamonds, he failed a drugs test and was banned from the game for six months. He is quite a character and is known to have been involved in numerous touchline disputes with opposing managers.
After a draw and a loss on their tour of Slovenia, Queens Park Rangers got back to winning ways with a comfortable victory over Forest Green. Oxford United lost their last pre-season match 2-0 against Glasgow Rangers.
QPR Team News
Lee Cook is suffering from a knee injury and is likely to miss the first month of next season. At the time of writing there is nothing on the official website about whether Taraabt will play on Friday evening Ė who knows? Martin Rowlands and Akos Buzsaky are expected to take part.
Once again, I expect this to be a victory for Queens Park Rangers. Of course, Oxford will fancy their chances. After all, they are in front of their own supporters and have some decent players in their team. However, over the course of this pre-season campaign Magiltonís side have shown that they are more than capable of defeating lower league opposition with ease and I think that will continue on Friday evening.
Oxford 0-3 Queens Park Rangers