When Oxford United lost 1-0 at Histon in their Setanta-televised game 14 months ago, it was considered a humiliation.

But the little Cambridgeshire side have gone on to prove themselves a highly- effective football outfit, and especially hard to play against at their small Glass-world Stadium ground.

Swindon Town found that. They went down 1-0 in the FA Cup there, and the scoreline reportedly flattered them.

Indeed, Histon are one of the Blue Square’s form teams.

Ignoring the Setanta Shield, which most people do, they have won eight and drawn two of their last ten games, and Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory at Stevenage made it three wins on the spin.

However, United are themselves full of confidence after at last finding the goals to match their dominance away from home, after getting through a very tricky FA Cup replay in midweek.

The key on Saturday, when a blast of Arctic air is going to make it bitterly cold for players and spectators alike, will be how the U’s handle Histon’s physical, long-ball tactics, and whether they can impose their own passing game rather than let John Beck’s tactics get on top of them.

Beck, the former Cambridge United manager, is the club’s first-team coach, and assistant to boss Steve Fallon. His methods are legendary.

“They’re a very physical side, who rely on set pieces a lot,” said U’s boss Darren Patterson.

“We’re going to have to be strong, and we may need some extra height. I might have to make a change or two because of that.

“But it’s a very winnable game.

We beat them 3-0 here last season, and we’re very capable of going there and getting a good result.”

Top scorer James Constable, whose crucial 77th-minute goal at Dorchester paved the way for the U’s to win in extra time, is relishing the challenge.

“They’re a big battering team. We’ve got to go there and do what we did in the second half and extra time at Dorchester and just carry that on. We knew we would get a goal, it was just a case of not panicking.”

He added: “The first half wasn’t really good enough and we said some harsh words at half-time.

“I think the lads showed a lot of resilience, and confidence to come out in the second half and play how we did, and grind out a result.

“We knew at half-time that if we got one, we’d get a few, and it worked out that way.

“We haven’t been the luckiest in front of goal. Jamie (Guy) couldn’t have done any more with his header, and the Dorchester keeper pulled off a fine save.

“That’s the way we thought it was going to go, but we stuck in there.

“We should be confident enough now after that game. In the second half, and extra time, we were the better team by a long way.

“Histon’s a big game. Obviously, the run we’ve been on away from home in the league hasn’t been the best. It’s something we want to put right.”

The U’s showed at Dorchester that, despite what some fans have claimed, their fitness levels are good.

Chairman Kelvin Thomas, who regularly monitors the online fans’ forum, said: “There have been some grumblings about the fitness, I believe, but Dorchester are a full-time side as well.

“We really did come out strong second half and dominated.”

Patterson said: “There’s been a lot said about that. Our fitness levels are good.

“The problem is we’ve had so many we can’t keep fit. They’re fit, then they get injured, then you’re trying to get them match-fit again, and that’s the difficult thing.”

Any United fan who went to both Grays and Dorchester would concede that the Dorset side looked just as good as the Essex outfit.

Patterson said: “Yes, and they were a better team, I thought, than Hayes & Yeading, who are much higher up the table.

“I’ve got to give Shaun Brooks and his team a lot of credit. I thought they were an absolute credit to their league.

“They try and play football and some of their forward play and movement was very, very good and caused us problems. It was a very good Cup-tie."

But that’s now in the past.

And United will need to be fully concentrated on the present, and stand up to be counted, physically and mentally, at Histon.

The place, though small, will be buzzing because of ticket fever with 2001 Champ-ions League semi-finalists Leeds United, and their big support, descending in the FA Cup second round.

The U’s played 120 minutes in midweek, so the players had only a very light training session yesterday.

“But we’re doing an extra big one on Friday (today) to combat how they play,” said the manager.

Eddie Hutchinson, Matt Day, Sam Deering and a couple of others all had dead legs or similar, but are expected to come through.

And Patterson says there will be no question of using the extra time at Dorchester as an excuse.

“When we played extra time at Forest Green recently, we then dominated the first 70 minutes on the Saturday, so that doesn’t come into it.”