SIMON Eastwood had not missed a league game since signing in 2017, but the run was brought to an end by a freak injury in the warm-up against Fleetwood Town.

Those who saw the dislocated little finger felt sick and boss Karl Robinson knew instantly how big a blow it was to his side.

“I remember the feeling that night,” he said. “I don’t think we managed to overcome that.”

United won just one of the 11 league games Eastwood missed.

On his return, they lost just one of the next 11.


Is there such a thing as a must-win game in October?

If so, then this meeting of the bottom two was it.

Defeat for United would have left them four points adrift at the bottom and prompted calls for Karl Robinson to go.

The head coach had provoked an international incident in the build-up over losing Gavin Whyte to Northern Ireland.

But in the winger’s absence, Jamie Mackie stepped up.

Putting a poor start to the season behind him, the forward scored one goal and made another in a precious 2-0 win.

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  • Jamie Mackie tees up Curtis Nelson to score against Plymouth Argyle


A MISERABLE festive period had plunged United back into trouble.

Their losing streak looked to be stretching to four league games as they fell 2-0 behind to Fleetwood Town.

It looked a forlorn hope, particularly at Highbury, where the U’s had a torrid record made all the worse by the hosts’ Captain Pugwash soundtrack.

But not for the first – or last – time, Mackie proved to be the man for a crisis.

Brought on at half-time, the forward set up James Henry before grabbing the equaliser himself to salvage a huge point.

Also read: Oxford United's 2018/19 season in review


THE entire season rested on United adding to their forward options in the transfer window.

Their pursuit went to the final day, where James Vaughan was the top target, but a reluctance to leave his family in the north west was a sticking point.

Robinson even offered his mother, who lived nearby, as a potential babysitter to help seal the deal.

In the end Vaughan did move south, but to join Portsmouth’s promotion push.

United changed tack and signed Jerome Sinclair – and for once a gamble paid off.

Sinclair netted four vital goals, while on the south coast Vaughan failed to register.

Oxford Mail:

  • Jerome Sinclair scores his second goal of the game against Scunthorpe United


THE turning point which defined two clubs’ seasons.

Having survived Lewis O’Brien’s glaring 94th-minute miss, United countered and within seconds Mackie scored.

Chaos then descended as the officials dithered over whether the goal should be ruled out.

The game stretched to 101 minutes, but when a decision arrived it was in United’s favour.

It was the start of a four-game winning run which saw them stay up at a canter, while the Bantams sunk without trace.