MARK Sykes said his Oxford United teammates were glad today’s game against Wigan Athletic got back underway in the second half, following a fire and evacuation at the Kassam Stadium.

The midfielder was handed his first league start for the U’s in 2021, in a match which was overshadowed by the extraordinary events off the pitch.
Firstly, the fixture itself had been pushed back 24 hours from Saturday due to a frozen pitch, and then a further hour today, to allow more time for the pitch to thaw out.

Then came the events during half-time when the Kassam was evacuated due to a floodlight fire.

Sykes said the evacuation was unlike anything he’d ever experienced in football.

See also: Oxford beat Wigan late on after fire delays second half

“It was a crazy day today, for a fire alarm to go off – nobody really knew what was going on, people were saying it was abandoned, people were saying it was still on – but we were just glad to get back out there,” the U’s midfielder said.

“They went 1-0 up which was disappointing but we showed real grit and determination to get back in the game and win.

“It wasn’t an easy day to play football but you’ve got to play the conditions.

“The pitch wasn’t great, which was to be expected, and it was really windy as well.

Read more: Sykes eyeing starting role for Oxford United

“We came out in the second half, all guns blazing and it was nice to get the win.

“It’s another massive three points on our promotion push.

“We know how massive today was, Wigan are at the bottom of the table but every game in this league is worth three points.”

Sykes put in a man of the match display on his first league start in 2021.

He said: “Some people may throw their toys out the pram and maybe not work hard, but for me personally, I work harder when I’m not playing because I’ve got to show I’m good enough to play in the team.

“Within myself, I know I’m good enough and it’s about the performances you put on the pitch and I feel like today I’ve done that.”