DEREK Fazackerley believes Oxford United’s last game provides good preparation for today’s crunch trip to AFC Wimbledon – but admits they cannot afford to repeat the slow start.

The disruption brought by the freezing weather last week means it is a fortnight since the U’s were last in action, at Northampton Town.

While it was not pretty, they showed plenty of grit to claim a goalless draw which stopped their slide down the Sky Bet League One table.

Fazackerley, whose seventh game in caretaker charge is likely to be his last, believes Wimbledon’s style is comparable with the Cobblers.

He said: “You know it will be a very physical game, very similar to the one against Northampton.

“In that respect, if we cast our minds back, the players can be aware of the type of game we’re going to be presented with and hopefully more prepared.”

The scenario at Kingsmeadow also echoes what United faced at Sixfields.

A victory would ease their relegation concerns, while the draw would at least keep their hosts at arm’s length.

But Fazackerley understands that for all the positives to come out of Northampton, they only came after riding their luck in the early stages – something they can ill-afford today.

He said: “Our start at Northampton wasn’t fantastic and certainly early on we might have conceded a goal, maybe two.

“Although we grew into the game, we have to start better because you can’t be a goal or two down and trying to get back into it at places like Wimbledon.

“They’re struggling a little bit themselves and we’ve got to try to utilise that and put pressure on them.

“Obviously we’d like to win the game, but the most important thing is to come away with the point we already have and not lose the game.

“If we can do that then it makes life an awful lot tougher for Wimbledon and an awful lot easier for ourselves.”

Cameron Brannagan could make his U’s debut this afternoon, but it is still too early for any of the squad’s other players returning from injury to be considered.

The break in fixtures has helped Wimbledon, who have defenders Darius Charles and Will Nightingale, plus striker Joe Pigott, available again after knocks.


AFC Wimbledon: from Long, Fuller, Oshilaja, Robinson, Meades, Francomb, Abdou, Trotter, Forrester, Barcham, Taylor, Pigott, Kaja, McDonald, Soares, Parrett, Kennedy, Charles, Nightingale, McDonell.

Oxford Utd: from Eastwood, Kane, Dickie, Mousinho, Smith-Brown, Ledson, Mowatt, Buckley-Ricketts, Henry, Ricardinho, Thomas, Obika, Van Kessel, Napa, Brannagan, Ruffels, Martin, Carroll, Shearer.