A CLEAN sheet is the priority for Chey Dunkley today as Oxford United aim to extend their winning away run at one of the country’s in-form sides.
Hosts AFC Wimbledon have stormed to fifth in the Sky Bet League Two table after collecting 21 points from their last eight games – a record only beaten by Northampton Town in English football’s top four divisions.
United are putting together an impressive sequence of their own and have won all five away games in 2016.
But one problem in recent weeks has been in leaking goals and they are without a clean sheet in the last seven games.
It is a source of frustration for Dunkley, who continues to deputise for injured skipper Jake Wright and scored his first U’s goal in Tuesday night’s 4-1 win at Exeter City.
The centre back would happily give up the chance to add to his scoring tally if it meant the U’s could shut out a dangerous Wimbledon side this afternoon.
“Honestly, I’d rather have a clean sheet because I back us to score in every game,” he said.
“It’s been a fundamental part of us getting results and in the early part of the season we were getting 1-0s.
“We want a clean sheet against Wimbledon because further down the line it could be important as it could come down to goal difference.
“We respect what they’re good at, but we have good players in our side who can cause them a lot of problems.”
Wimbledon were awkward opponents when the sides met in October, when United won 1-0 thanks to a late strike from George Baldock.
Home wins have been in short supply of late for Michael Appleton’s side, whose position in the automatic promotion places has been sustained by excellent results on the road.
They have hit four goals at Notts County, Morecambe and Exeter City in 2016 and if a fifth straight league win on their travels arrived today it would equal a club record.
And Dunkley thinks United, who will be backed by a sold-out away end, are reaping the benefit of home sides being more adventurous on their own patch.
He said: “When you play away the opposition will come out a bit more at us a bit more than they would at the Kassam.
“That might just be the difference.”