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Match Previews

Match Preview: Oxford United vs U's

24 December 2023

Match Previews

Match Preview: Oxford United vs U's

24 December 2023

Cambridge United are looking to extend their unbeaten run to four matches in Sky Bet League One as they take on Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium on Boxing Day…

In fine, festive spirits, the U’s will be hoping to continue their front-footed displays by making it three successive wins for the first time in 2023/24 and secure the double over the play-off hopefuls, who aim to find their feet again following a run of one win in six.

How to Watch

Advanced sales have officially closed for Tuesday’s encounter in Oxfordshire, which kicks off at 3pm. 490 U’s fans have already securing their place and tickets will also be available on the day.

If you can't make it to the game, supporters in the UK and abroad can stream the game live on iFollow. A Match Pass costs £10 and can be purchased by clicking here.

Opposition Focus

Founded in 1893, originally as Headington FC/United, the side became professional in 1949 and reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 1964, just two years after joining the Football League. Peaking in the mid-1980s, the club enjoyed a brief spell in the top tier of English football and claimed the League Cup in 1986, but have since had to work their way up from the Conference at the fourth attempt and League Two at the sixth. Flirting with promotion on occasions, a horror 17-match winless run heading into late April meant the drop was possible, but respected boss Liam Manning steered the ship at the death to keep the group afloat. With strong preparations behind them, optimism is in the air – an improvement is a given, but how far can they go?

Now under the tutelage of 38-year-old Des Buckingham following Manning’s November departure, the trusted 4-2-3-1 remains, with a strong blend of wisdom, flair and exciting potential. Highly-regarded goalkeeper James Beadle has adapted to the third tier well, and that’s no surprise with dependable centre-backs Elliott Moore and Ciaron Brown – on three for the season – ahead of him. The midfield structure is undoubtedly one of the strongest in the division, with former Barcelona man Marcus McGuane and Cameron Brannagan protecting the defence and kick-starting attacks – the latter is hunting his tenth goal involvement of the season and is indispensable. Tyler Goodrham or Everton loanee Stanley Mills are expected to don the right flank, with Josh Murphy on the left and the unplayable Ruben Rodrigues, who possesses sheer class in the final third. Mark Harris is the lone striker and at just 24 has a plethora of Championship experience, whilst understudy Gatlin O’Donkor looks ready for the first team after a fruitful few years in the youth setup.

A forgettable opening day saw the U’s comfortably lose to Cambridge in the reverse, but a first-class response saw the side gain nine wins from their following ten games to firmly etch them in the automatic promotion spots. In that run, there were three convincing 3-0 wins, with the sole defeat coming in the dying embers at home to Port Vale. Form dipped slightly during the latter stages of October, as they shared the spoils with Blackpool and Wycombe Wanderers either side of defeat to Wigan Athletic, but ensured it was streaky form as they dispatched Lincoln City 0-2 and Leyton Orient 2-3 on the road. A stuttering run of late has seen the U’s win one from their previous six games, tasting defeat on three occasions, including on Saturday as Northampton Town gained a 2-1 success. Down to 5th, but with a four-point gap from the top two, the side have plenty of time to respond and garner some early-season momentum.

Form Guide

Oxford United: WLDWL

Cambridge United: LWDWW           

United’s Approach

The U’s will fancy their chances against anyone after they accelerated their momentum under Neil Harris last time out after professionally dispatching Exeter City 2-0 at the Abbey Stadium.

United came out of the blocks firing and punished their out-of-form visitors by drawing first blood early on through Gassan Ahadme, who slotted home for the fourth consecutive game via a penalty. Remaining in the ascendency with heavy pressure throughout, they secured the points late on thanks to Elias Kachunga’s clinical finish.

Dissecting the win, Harris stated: “To pick up seven points in three games, to see them play for the shirt like they are, it’s a proud place for us at the moment. We can take pats on the back for the first two weeks, for the last two home games and rightly so, but it’s now making sure we build on this.”

The latest form and stats make for superb reading for the United faithful. Unbeaten in four for the second time since early November, it’s now ten goals in that time, with the clean sheet at the weekend their ninth of the league campaign – only three sides have more. A different animal at home too, they’ve won six of their last seven matches and will now aim to secure a first away win since Fleetwood Town in mid-August and continue the ascendency up the table.


Oxford United Wins: 14

Cambridge United Wins: 12

Draws: 14

Down Memory Lane

The U’s will have fond memories of the last meeting between the sides, as they introduced the 2023/24 League One campaign with a 2-0 triumph at a bumper CB5.

A lively Jack Lankester got the ball rolling early in the encounter by nestling from close range, before a delightful team move was finished off by debutant Ahadme just before the half an hour mark to hand the hosts the impetus to preserve the success with real assurance.

Thanks to that, United have now won back-to-back games against Oxford, cancelling out tricky form which read at the sole win from eight attempts. They’ve had little luck at the Kassam over the years too, with the last victory occurring back in March 2008 when Jimmy Quinn’s men claimed a 1-2 success on their way to 2nd position.


Referee: Tom Nield

Assistant Referee: Nigel Lugg

Assistant Referee: Carl Fitch-Jackson

Fourth Official: Aji Ajibola

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