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Smalley confident Oxford United can build on fast start
Deane Smalley believes Oxford United ’s flying start to the season has made their rivals in npower League Two sit up and take notice.
Back-to-back 2-0 victories against fellow promotion contenders Bristol Rovers and Southend United have sent the U’s top of the table on goal difference.
It is their highest league position since January 2004, when the club headed Division Three under Ian Atkins.
Smalley is not getting carried away by the strong start, which also includes a penalty shoot-out win against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup.
But the striker thinks other clubs will now be paying close attention, starting with Saturday’s home game against Plymouth Argyle.
He said: “If we can go into the next game against Plymouth and get another result it leaves us right up there.
“It’s only the start of the season, but it’s a good platform for us.
“I’m sure a couple of teams will be looking at us already and will be thinking we’re a good team.
“That’s a compliment to us and the gaffer (Chris Wilder ) – it’s his team.
“We’ll stay strong as a tight unit and hopefully we’ll do well this season.”
The 23-year-old led the United forward line against Southend on Tuesday night, but it was fellow striker Tom Craddock who grabbed the glory by scoring both goals.
The bulk of Smalley’s work involved making runs off the ball to create space for others to exploit, but he was pleased to play a part in the victory.
He said: “That’s part of my game and if it brings others into play then I’ll keep doing that week-in week-out – it’s a team game.
“Tommy came on and did fantastically for us, he got his goals and it’s typical of him.
“If he can start scoring goals like he did a couple of seasons ago then we’ve got a fantastic player in the squad.”
Smalley had a disappointing first season with the U’s, scoring just twice before being loaned out to Bradford City.
The striker, who helped Chest-erfield win the League Two title two seasons ago, is pleased with his performances so far, even if he is yet to get off the mark in this campaign.
“I always had full confidence in myself,” he said.
“I hope the fans can see that. I’ll just keep putting in performances, try my hardest and if I get goals then so be it, but the main thing is we get a result.”
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