Oxford United's call-off is a mixed blessing

9:30am Thursday 2nd January 2014

By David Pritchard

OXFORD United’s players were left frustrated as a postponement yesterday denied them a chance to deliver a response to their defeats over Christmas.

A waterlogged pitch at Newport County failed an inspection by referee Rob Lewis just after 10am.

It meant the U’s began the new year kicking their heels, after ending 2013 on a low note with successive home defeats to Plymouth Argyle and Scunthorpe United.

Boss Chris Wilder was particularly critical about his side’s second-half display in their 2-0 loss to Scunthorpe and sensed the squad were champing at the bit to make amends at Newport.

He said: “I know we trained very well and there was a determined look in the players’ eyes.

“Knowing what their character is like, they wanted the chance to put it right and they haven’t had the opportunity to do that.”

There was a silver lining, though, as United’s squad would have been stretched for the trip.

Ryan Williams would have been ruled out with an ankle injury, while Asa Hall was still struggling with a virus which had affected the midfielder over the weekend.

“Ryan wasn’t going to make it and there was a doubt over Asa Hall,” Wilder said.

“Asa was ill leading up to the Scunthorpe game and credit to him for getting through it.”

While the postponement was far from ideal, it had not come as a surprise.

Newport were desperate to get the game on after losing their other home festive fixture to the weather.

They used a ‘Super Blotter’, more commonly used on cricket grounds, and spiked the pitch in an effort to improve conditions, but heavy rain overnight meant their efforts were in vain.

United were aware of the problems and had not left the Kassam Stadium when the news came through.

Wilder said: “I thought it was always a game that was massively in doubt, looking at the pictures and the forecast.

“We were told to hang on while they had the ref come in, so we hadn’t set off.”

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