A PAIR of 5-0 scorelines within the space of a little over four weeks of each other look set to shape not just Oxford United’s season, but Des Buckingham’s first months in charge of the club.

Prior to United’s chastening 5-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers, the side had shown too few glimpses of what a Buckingham team looked like, and results had been patchy.

Six wins and seven draws in league action were somewhat overshadowed by eight defeats, while the Trotters mauling edged the U’s closer to double digits in losses.

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Five games have followed, and United haven’t been beaten. In fact, the U’s are the top team in Sky Bet League One, in the ‘last five form table’.

United have picked up 13 points, two more than Portsmouth and Exeter City, and plundered 16 goals. That’s five more than Lincoln City, the next most productive side in front of goal.

At the other end, the U’s have leaked just one goal, with Blackpool the only other side to keep the goals against column so low.

The credit for the upturn in form has to go to Buckingham.

For the trip to Port Vale, he made bold changes after the Bolton defeat, both in personnel and style.

Marcus McGuane, such an influential player at the beginning of the campaign, was dropped from the matchday squad, while Buckingham implemented a 4-3-3 formation with the emphasis on attack.

On the wings, Owen Dale and Josh Murphy were pushed high and wide in support of Will Goodwin up front, while United deployed two advanced midfielders, Billy Bodin and Ruben Rodrigues, in front of Cameron Brannagan as the single six in the centre of the park.

Oxford Mail:

The team selection will no doubt have raised eyebrows, but United were able to leave Vale Park with a 2-0 win. The system stayed the same when the U’s conceded late on in a 1-1 draw at Shrewsbury Town, but there was a feeling that things were clicking among the players.

Two handsome 4-0 victories, on home soil against Fleetwood Town and at Burton Albion, strengthened the feeling that United were on an upwards trajectory.

Results against teams the U’s ‘should beat’ though meant the true litmus test came with Peterborough United’s visit to Grenoble Road.

And it was with flying colours that the U’s passed that test.

United were irresistible against a Posh side which still had more than half an eye on automatic promotion.

The nature in which the U’s tore into Peterborough time and time again, and relentlessly pressed high up the pitch, has brought Buckingham and his side plaudits from various corners of the football world.

Of course, it is one win, and we mustn’t get carried away by it, but placed in the context of United’s improvement in recent weeks, it has got fans dreaming of what might just be this season.