Crocombe holds the key for Oxford United on 21st birthday

United’s No 21 Max Cromcombe, who turns 21 today, has set his sights on a clean sheet against Bristol City at Ashton Gate tonight

United’s No 21 Max Cromcombe, who turns 21 today, has set his sights on a clean sheet against Bristol City at Ashton Gate tonight

First published in Sport
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Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Reporter covering Oxford United. Follow us on twitter: @oxfordmailoufc. Call me on 01865 425458

Max Crocombe is aiming to give himself the best possible birthday present as he targets a clean sheet for Oxford United tonight (7.45).

The goalkeeper turns 21 today and will be handed a start at Bristol City, with George Long ineligible to play in the Capital One Cup.

It is the first time the New Zealander has played for the U’s in more than a year, when he kept clean sheets in the final three games of the 2012-13 season.

Crocombe, who wears the No 21 shirt, sought to play down the significance of the occasion to impress in a competitive game and just wants to help the team take the scalp of their Sky Bet League One hosts.

“It’s great, but I’m not a big birthday person and the prime focus is the match in the evening,” he said.

“I don’t big the games up too much anyway. It’s something I’ve learned from the past and you just approach them normally.

“In an ideal world I’ll save ten penalties, but the thing with goalkeeping is sometimes you don’t touch the ball and that’s the way it is.

“My main aim is not to let any goals in. If I do that and don’t have to make any saves then I’ll be happy.”

Another player who could come into the frame for the visitors is Jon Meades.

Like Crocombe, he was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 opening day defeat to Burton Albion.

If he plays, it will be the Welshman’s competitive debut for the U’s after missing the whole of last season with an ankle injury.

The midfielder is confident they can spring a surprise and progress to round two, where Manchester United would be among their potential opponents.

He said: “It will be a different kind of game to Saturday, but I think we can definitely go there and get a result.

“There’s no reason why we can’t be one of those upsets.”

Long’s absence means one of United’s young goalkeepers, Eddie Cavanagh or Jack Stevens, are in contention to make the bench.

Michael Raynes (neck) is unlikely to play, so Sam Long is set to come into the squad.

City plan to make a host of changes from the side, which impressively won 2-1 at Sheffield United on Saturday.

Former Arsenal striker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas is among the players expected to start.

Bristol City: from FIelding, Flint, Williams, Osborne, Wagstaff, Pack, Freeman, Reid, Bryan, Emmanuel-Thomas, Wilbraham, Burns, El-Abd, Little, Cunningham, Ayling, Smith, Elliott, Baldock, Richards.

Oxford Utd: from Crocombe, Riley, Mullins, Wright, Newey, Meades, Ruffels, Potter, Rose, Brown, Morris, Hylton, Roberts, O’Dowda, Collins, S Long, Hunt, Cavanagh, Stevens.

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