IT’S the second part of our Oxford United season review, this time encompassing January onwards.

There was a glamour tie on the telly in the Emirates FA Cup, a seemingly never-ending winless run and a battle against the drop which threatened to go down to the wire.

Join us as we look back on what the first months of 2023 held for United.

SEASON REVIEW PART ONE: Opening months defined by topsy-turvy form


The first day of the New Year failed to get off to a cracker as the U’s slipped to a 1-0 loss at home to Exeter City.

The glitz and glamour soon followed though as eight days later, Premier League leaders Arsenal put out a near enough full strength side against United in the third round of the FA Cup.

The Gunners dominated possession but without laying a glove on the U’s, who defended admirably.

Three goals in 13 second half minutes from Arsenal won the tie though, but United exited with their heads held high.

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The momentum from that display continued in the league as late victories in wild weather were secured against Fleetwood Town and Ipswich Town.

In Lancashire, wind gusts hit more than 40mph, while the fog made visibility a problem at home against the Tractor Boys.

The freak weather followed into a nightmare run of results though as the U’s embarked on a 17-game winless streak.

It started on what promised to be an all-round great day for the club.

After Oxfordshire County Council agreed to begin talks with United relating to ‘The Triangle’, a result off the field was followed by a dismal display on it as Karl Robinson’s side whimpered to a 2-0 loss at Wycombe Wanderers.

The U’s were similarly woeful as they were beaten by the same score at Burton Albion.


Defeats at home to Barnsley and Shrewsbury Town, plus a draw at MK Dons, ensured a poor start to February.

There was little love for Robinson when Plymouth Argyle swatted aside United on Valentine’s Day, or four days later when a toothless U’s side failed to claw back Cambridge United’s early lead.

A dreadful 3-0 defeat at home to Bristol Rovers marked the end for Robinson, who was sacked less than 24 hours later.

READ AGAIN: Why final months could tarnish Karl Robinson’s legacy at Oxford United


Under the guidance of interim boss Craig Short, improved displays against Lincoln City and Derby County yielded zero points, but new head coach Liam Manning was in the stands for the latter and would ultimately steady the ship.

It began with a 1-1 draw at Morecambe, when United were frustrated not to come away with all three points after Ash Hunter bagged an equaliser with three minutes to go.


Manning quickly made the U’s a much tougher side to play against, and that was evident in the goalless draw at free-scoring Peterborough United.

A credible 1-1 draw at home to league leaders at the time, Sheffield Wednesday, followed on Good Friday, backed up by a goalless affair at Port Vale on Easter Monday.

The run of four draws came to an end with a defeat at home to Bolton Wanderers, where for the first time under Manning, performance levels dropped off, particularly in the first half.

The reaction was another draw – this time at home to Portsmouth as John Mousinho returned to Grenoble Road – before high-flying Barnsley comfortably outclassed United at Oakwell.

With three games to go, the situation was dire for the U’s, who at this point were only above the relegation zone due to their superior goal difference.

The draws needed turning into wins, and chances into goals.

It finally came to fruition at home to Cheltenham Town, who were put to the sword thanks to three goals in 13 minutes.

Tyler Goodrham had given United a first half lead, before Kyle Joseph and a Marcus Browne double ended the horrific 17-game winless run.

With the curse lifted, the U’s made the trip to rock bottom Forest Green Rovers full of confidence, and waltzed their way to safety with a 3-0 win.

Manning, his players and staff stayed out on the pitch after the final whistle, and when results came through from elsewhere, the relief was palpable.

Only a ridiculous goal swing on the final day would see United relegated to the fourth tier.


When Billy Bodin gave the U’s an eighth-minute lead against Accrington Stanley, it felt as though he and his teammates would go on to steamroller past the visitors.

Attack after attack yielded no goals, and a drop-off in the second half allowed Stanley to come back and snatch the three points, yet the result hardly mattered in the bigger picture.

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About the author

To sign up to Liam’s latest Oxford United newsletter for free, click here:

Formerly the politics reporter for the Oxford Mail, Liam now covers all things Oxford United.

Liam attends the U’s home and away, as well as covering other big sports stories across the county.

His Oxford United newsletter is released every Saturday morning at 6am.