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  • "Well, I thought at the start of the season that the U's would make the play off's, given at the start we were without the injury issues, which we had the previous season. My fingers are still crossed. But they are making hard work of it! I never thought we were good enough to reach the automatic places. (Never score enough goals to bury lesser teams out of sight). This is necessary to secure a top spot and have any chance of not coming straight back down again from League one.

    You just wonder why they have to play so deep and the mid-field does not thread killer balls to strikers who (with exception of Connolly) are unable to hit the target. How many shots on target in recent games? Even one goal is not enough, because we love to wait for the last ten minutes to let the opposition even things up.

    This comes down to lack of quality players. Quality players cost money. We have a few Kitson, Connolly, Jake Wright and some who shine occasionally. Lenagan clearly does not want to pay out for the good ones, he seems to want to rely on youth, which is fine for the long term. But one has to fear for next season or if, ( if?) we got promoted this season.

    It seems to me Wilder realised this and since he was offered a longer term deal, you cannot blame him taking it.

    So where are we now? With a team showing relegation, rather than promotion form, and 13 players out of contract at the end of the season. I was hoping Waddock would hit the ground running, given his apparent liking for fast tempo attacking football, which we are probably not going to see until the end of the season? Was he the cheap option of the 70 candidates for the job? I hope not! But the rot had set in before he joined and we need a spark or even dynamite to kick those in the team lacking confidence into action!"
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Oxford Utd 0 Fleetwood Tn 2 (Ball 33, Sarcevic 52)

Oxford Utd 0 Fleetwood Tn 2 (Ball 33, Sarcevic 52)

Oxford Utd 0 Fleetwood Tn 2 (Ball 33, Sarcevic 52)

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

OXFORD United dropped out of the Sky Bet League Two play-off places for the first time this season as their poor run continued with a home defeat to Fleetwood Town.

There was little to choose between the sides before David Ball's close range finish on 33 minutes.

Antoni Sarcevic's stunning strike from a free-kick routine doubled the lead just after the break.

United, who suffered a third defeat in a row, struggled to create chances as visiting goalkeeper Chris Maxwell had a comfortable afternoon.

After two away games, it was Gary Waddock's first home game in charge.

The head coach made one change from the 1-0 defeat at Dagenham a week earlier, bringing back Tom Newey after suspension.

David Hunt reverted to right back as Matt Bevans dropped out.

Neither side was able to gain an upper hand in a tight opening half hour.

But Fleetwood, still in the hunt for automatic promotion, looked the more dangerous when they got into the final third.

Goalkeeper Ryan Clarke had to get down well to keep out a crisp, low drive from Sarcevic.

At the other end, Maxwell was almost caught out by David Connolly's shot on the turn from the edge of the box.

The Cod Army goalkeeper quickly readjusted to save what was United's only shot on target before the break.

There was plenty of effort from the hosts, but they lacked width as Ryan Williams frequently came in off the left flank looking for the ball.

Nathan Pond should have opened the scoring for the visitors on 18 minutes. The centre back rose unmarked to plant a header well wide, punching the turf in frustration.

The even pattern of the game continued until Fleetwood took the lead, just after the half hour mark.

Sarcevic swung in an excellent corner which was not dealt with, allowing Ball to bundle in from close range at the back post.

Oxford Mail:

David Ball hits home Fleetwood’s first goal as Nathan Pond cheers, leaving Andy Whing and Jake Wright deflated

The striker turned provider five minutes before the break, playing Iain Hume through on goal. The veteran should have made it 2-0, but his shot was too close to Clarke, who saved well.

United needed the interval to come quickly, as they wobbled defensively.

Clarke was called upon again, making a save with his legs to keep out Ball as a quickly-taken free-kick caught the hosts napping.

Half-time gave United an opportunity to regroup, but within seven minutes of the restart they fell further behind.

Josh Morris won a free-kick a yard outside the area, going down between Hunt and Scott Davies.

Fleetwood worked a routine which appeared to give Nicky Wroe, on as a substitute for Andy Whing, time to get out to block, but somehow Sarcevic smashed a shot past him and into the corner of the net.

Oxford Mail:

Antoni Sarcevic scores Fleetwood’s second goal from a free-kick as Nicky Wroe is too late to block the ball

Waddock's response was instant, replacing Connolly and Deane Smalley with James Constable and Dave Kitson.

It lifted the crowd and United looked more purposeful, without really stretching Fleetwood.

Clarke remained the busier of the two goalkeepers, making a fine stop to keep out the lively Hume after Conor McLaughlin's clever pass.

United enjoyed plenty of possession in the visitors' half during the final half hour.

Oxford Mail:

James Constable has a shot at goal, minutes after coming on in the second half

Fashioning chances continued to be a real problem, though, to the extent that when Nicky Wroe fired a shot from range off target many home fans rose to applaud.

Kitson also had a header saved late on, but Fleetwood never looked ruffled on the way to boosting their automatic promotion hopes.

For United, who have won just once in ten games, some inspiration is needed urgently.

Oxford Utd: Clarke, Hunt, Raynes, Wright, Newey, Williams, Davies, Whing (Wroe ht), Ruffels, Connolly (Kitson 54), Smalley (Constable 54).

Unused subs: Crocombe, Rigg, Rose, Long.

Fleetwood: Maxwell, McLaughlin, Pond, Roberts, Taylor, Goodall, Blair, Sarcevic, Morris, Hume (Evans 76), Ball (Parkin 84).

Unused subs: Davies, Murdoch, Schumacher, Cresswell, Jordan.

Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire).

Attendance: 5,679 (160 visitors).

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