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Flintoff: MOM
Flintoff: MOM

Plus ça change: Oxford Report

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 07/08/2005

A warming afternoon in the home of the hopeful; another year over, a new one just begun. Let's hope we have some fun this year, eh? Do you feel one of Michael Reddy's turns coming on?

Home > 2005-2006 Season > Reports > Oxford (h)

Town lined up in the modish 3:4:0:2 formation as follows: Mildenhall, McDermott, Crane, Ramsden, Jones (R), Newey, Bolland, Croft, (Parkinson), Gritton and Reddy. The substitutes were Cohen, G Jones, Andrew, Barwick and Gliding Glen. Ah, these new fangled systems, playing an invisible man in the hole. Ah, these new fangled ideas, playing six defenders at home: Newey at left whatever-you-wish-to-call-it-back and little Gary Croft, the man with the golden bootlaces, in central midfield.

How do you pronounce Barwick? Bar-wick? Barrick? Boowick? Bar-wick has just opened down Meggies, hasn't it? Beer, wine and a fine collection of wickerwork on the wall, their unique selling point. Terry the raffia don.

Oxford sauntered about in the sun, resplendent in vivid yellow, though their socks were a different shade; a bit sartorially schloppy there. Chris Hargreaves found his hair in 1651 at the Battle of Worcester. Ooh, saucy. They seem to have Bert Weedon on the bench, doing the big beat boogies. The referee and linesmen came out as lime crunches from the pick'n'mix at Woolies. That'll make them limesmen then.

When you buy a season ticket do you have to take the hypocritic oath?

1st half

Town kicked off towards the Pontoon: a throw in to Oxford, of course, within 3.21 seconds. That's right, a Dusty Bin start to the season. Fishomania suddenly has its attractions down Doncaster way.

They have the ball.

They still have it.

Oh, hang on, nope, Town just walloped it away. They have the ball again. Bored already?

A minor Town attack, the ball cleared to Gray underneath the Police Box. Bolland, delayed by roadworks on the A18, stopped all that nonsense with what leading scientists have postulated was the remnants of a comet from the outer rim of the known universe, somewhere near Scunthorpe. Or in footballspeak, he legged him up no messin', like.

Oxford dominant, Town impotent, no passing, no movement, just a series of hoofs and headers back from Hargreaves. Ugly, horrible, crowd dimmed and dulled, it's like last season all over again. Woe is me, woe is us, woeful. PARKINSON!

The ball's up there at the Osmond End, yellow lights flashing. It's ninja football again - the ball bouncing, bouncing, high-stepping, line dancing; the tiller girls are back and Hargreaves even put a feather in his hair. Lovely. Limesman not lovely, indulgent of Oxford, stern on Town. We nudge, they push; different decisions. Annoying. Parky pushed; play on, no penalty.

They still have the ball, push and run, tip and tap, ripple and cripple Town. It's our ball, give it back. Ooh, Town exposed, two Oxfordians free on their left, Macca blocked with his "upper thigh/lower neck", definitely not his hand, no siree. No way whatsoever, shall we take a vote on that? The ball still free, dribble and drivel inside the area, a fantastic Jones smothertackle as Hackett swooped 10 yards out, Corner, cleared, relax.

Reddy hibernating, awoken by the first cuckoo of summer, and wouldn't you be? Bing-bang-wham, a spin, off on a whim, rock'n'rolling through the centre from the half way line. Past one, two, Ashton fooled, across the area, right to left, drifting wide, zooming in, flashing a shot at Turley from 12 yards. Exhilarating, breathtaking, brilliant...but not a goal.

Take a snooze. Take a break, take a letter, the letter zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Oxford pressure, Town dreadful, long balls launched towards Hull. Leave that sort of thing to Levy. There were isolated moments of hope when Bolland and Croft brought the ball down, wing backs winging, momentum briefly with Town. Corners, nothing to report, go back to your lawnmower and prepare for government. We're tired and weary of this season already. More ref madness when Turley dropped the ball after Reddy was pushed by Ashton. Frustration with Town, frustration with Oxford's 1970s-style professionalism. Talbot's twitchers threw the ball away, "accidentally" stood over the ball and stole several miles of Lincolnshire coastline at free kicks. The bit around Saltfleetby was of particular interest to them, good for waddling birds I understand.

Got it yet? Nothing happened of any interest, the usual barging and larging from fourth division trundlers. Just plain boring, with Town not even having the ball enough to be rubbish. Oxford must have had a shot in the first half, mustn't they? Mildenhall punched a cross and caught a couple of others, but other than that...nope, nothing. Surely they had a shot that got them excited? What? Not even some fake fur shooting?

With less than 10 minutes left Reddy roved and raided down the centre right, tricking the ball away from Ashton with a spot of friendly persuasion in the back. Off he zoomed, 25 yards out, Ashton fell, spun and inelegantly tripped Reddy with a swinging boot. A yellow card for a yellow man. Turely kicked the near post, tapping out his Morse code for Lewis to get a few pints in. Or maybe for the wall to cover that side of the goal. Turley hid behind the wall and made an excellent save to push Newey's low curler around his right hand post. Turley the tambourine man with a past, reminded, with some verve, by the less somnambulant of the Town fans that the drugs don't work. He steals yards at free kicks to fund his habit these days.

Droning on and on, the half hummed like a Gilbert O'Sullivan song, driving the crowd to the toilet. Then in the breeze we heard a Twix snap: with the scoreboard showing 42 minutes gone we opened our eyes, and to our surprise the half ended. Always something positive to take out a game, eh?

Analysis, a broad brush sweeping of the afternoon so far? It was as fascinating as watching your dad clip his hedge. There was nothing to tell you, not even any distracting moments in the crowd. There were no Norman Wisdom moments from any of the players: they were competently rubbish. Town had no width, Parkinson touched the ball twice, giving it away both times. Crane and Jones whacked it long, Gritton, the lean burning green engine, persevered for at least a few minutes before "conserving his energy". There were 3.5 Town passes during the first half.

In short, we started as we ended last season at home.

Stu's Half Time Toilet talk

Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk

"You look like a train driver without a hat."
"Have we lost yet? Cricket or football?"
"I didn't recognise you with your handkerchief on."
"What's the point of signing Crofty and playing him out of position?"
"This match is flatter than Talbot's nose."

The report continues in the Second Half.

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