DES Buckingham says he would challenge anyone who claims his Oxford United side are playing matches without a game plan.

The U’s are winless in their last three, and have altered shape and style for each of those games.

In the goalless draw at Wycombe Wanderers, Buckingham began with a 4-2-3-1 set-up, before introducing Will Goodwin for Josh Murphy at half-time.

That change meant United essentially played 4-4-2, with Ruben Rodrigues tucking in from the left, and Greg Leigh overlapping from full back.

For the 2-2 draw at home to Northampton Town, Buckingham named an attacking line-up, which saw Rodrigues, Cameron Brannagan and Billy Bodin as the three-man midfield in a 4-3-3.

The weekend’s 2-1 defeat at home to Leyton Orient saw another minor tweak, this time with Brannagan dropping next to Jay Matete when the U’s didn’t have possession, while Rodrigues remained the advanced midfielder.

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Buckingham said: “Anybody that comes to watch the game and says there’s no game plan, I’d challenge that, I really would.

“We’ve changed what we do two or three times over the last two or three games, certainly without the ball.

“It’s still a work in progress, it was never going to happen overnight. It’s something we will continue to work through the remainder of the season, and make sure we get it right more often than not, and for larger periods.”

Oxford Mail:

Since arriving as head coach, Buckingham has made it clear that he wants United to play with wingers staying high and wide.

That seemingly relies on the wide players getting the ball quickly into feet, something that hasn’t always been the case in the last three matches.

Discussing how his wingers can get more involved, Buckingham said: “It revolves around quite a few things, whether it be the rotation to get it out from the back a little bit quicker, to play past the first line of press, or play through the midfielders that we have, or play directly over them, or switch to the opposite side where the opposite winger holds his width.

“There are different ways we want to do that, rather than playing one specific way. It’s just about being clear on what those two or three ways are, and players making what they feel is the best decision when they have the ball.”

The U’s have no midweek game to prepare for, meaning the focus can be entirely on Saturday’s trip to Sky Bet League One leaders Portsmouth.

Buckingham said: “We’ve got a week leading into Portsmouth, with no Tuesday game.

“We’ve spoken about the importance of using this week to get ourselves back on track, not just for Portsmouth, but to make sure these last 11 games, we take as many points from as we can, and more importantly, we string together some really good performances.”