Saturday 9th April 2022
(8th) Oxford United v Sunderland (7th)
Sky Bet League One
Tickets & Match Coverage
Tickets: Tickets are sold out.
TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via www.safc.com to residents outside the UK and Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man only.
Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)
Are you a glass half full person or does that glass always seem half empty? With Sunderland at the moment you could look at the fact that we’re unbeaten in six or on a run of only one win on the road in eight games.
This split in personality type has meant that for some there were encouraging signs during our late victory over Gillingham last time out, while for others we flattered to deceive and we were fortunate to come away with maximum points.
Sunderland haven’t looked convincing at all in 2022 so far, and although the green shoots are on display in terms of results, we are far from convincing when it comes to putting sides away. This fact is especially true when you consider that our last five fixtures have all been against sides from the bottom ten in the League One table.
Today’s game provides a completely different type of opposition. Oxford have been sitting around the play-off positions since the start of the season, and currently sit only one place and one point behind us - but hopefully this suits us more than playing sides who only have defending on their mind.
With only six games remaining every game is huge but travelling to a side that also have aspirations of finishing in one of the four coveted play-off positions gives it a feel of a significant game that could have major implications on the outcome of the season.
Oxford have been in and around the play-off places since the opening day of the season but are seemingly having a wobble at just the wrong time, with only one point taken from the last nine on offer.
It was a shock in midweek when Morecambe beat Oxford 2-1, but as Alex Neil described in the build-up to the fixture, having been in attendance his verdict was that Oxford should have won the game.
Karl Robinson will be hoping this is just a blip for his side and looking at the evidence of last season’s beaten play-off semi-finalists being League One’s highest scorers on home soil and overall, that they are dangerous opposition.
But, if we’re looking for positive signs, we can look at past meetings and see that we haven’t suffered defeat at Oxford since December 1991, which was the game that ended the reign as Denis Smith as manager.
League One Form...
Sunderland Away Form...
Oxford United Home Form...
The bookies are struggling to split the two sides this afternoon with Oxford at 29/20 to take all three points, with the Lads priced at 7/4 and the draw is 23/10.
It’s probably no surprise that the shortest odds with the bookmakers for a correct score is a 1-1 draw at 24/5 followed by a 1-0 home win at 7/1 and a 2-1 Oxford win at 8/1.
Sunderland are only slightly longer at 17/2 to take the win with the only goal of the game and 9/1 to take a 2-1 victory.
Head to head... at the Kassam Stadium
- Sunderland wins: 8
- Draws: 6
- Oxford United wins: 5
- Sunderland goals: 21
- Oxford United goals: 21
Last time we met... at the Kassam Stadium
Saturday 19th September 2020
Sky Bet League One
Oxford United 0-2 Sunderland
[O’Nien 47’, Gooch 82’]
Sunderland: Burge, O’Nien, Willis, Wright, Flanagan, Hume, Leadbitter, Power (Scowen), Maguire, O’Brien (Gooch), Graham (Wyke) Substitutes not used: Matthews, McLaughlin, Xhemajli, Grigg
Oxford United: Eastwood, Clare, Long, Kelly (Cooper), Moore, Atkinson, Sykes (Hall), Henry, Taylor, Osei Yaw (Agyei), Brannagan Substitutes not used: Stevens, Elechi, Forde, McGuane
Played for both...
One of Mick McCarthy’s bargain signings when he joined from Oxford United in June 2004 for only £150,000 via a tribunal - a snip considering Whitehead would make 200 appearances for the Lads over five years.
He was captain for the Lads as we romped to the Championship title under Roy Keane in 2007 whilst also being included in the PFA Team of the Year. A move to Stoke City followed in 2009 for an initial £3 million rising to a possible £5 million and he would end his career after spells with Middlesbrough and Huddersfield Town.
The Welsh international began his career with Swansea City where he spent his first four years ahead of a move to Oxford United in the summer of 1990. It would be three years before Terry Butcher signed the central defender for an initial fee of £500,000 plus Anton Rogan in exchange.
Melville would spend a successful six years on Wearside making over 200 appearances. In his final season Melville would miss only two League games as Sunderland won the second tier with 105 points in 1999.
Spells at Fulham, West Ham United and Nottingham Forest followed Sunderland before retirement in 2005.