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Opposition Profile: Oxford United

11 June 2017

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A new feature where we take a closer look at who Rovers will face in League One next season.

Oxford United

Founded: 1893
Nickname: The Us

Founded in 1893 as Headington United, the club adopted its current name in 1960 and joined the Football League two years later after winning the Southern Football League.

The Us reached the Second Division in 1968, but were relegated back to the third tier in 1976.

Between 1984 and 1986, the club earned back-to-back promotions into the First Division and won the League Cup in 1986, beating QPR 3-0 in the Wembley final. It was their first major honour.

Relegation from the top flight in 1988 began an 18-year decline, which culminated in relegation to the Conference in 2006.

After four seasons out of the Football League, Oxford were promoted into League Two in 2010 via the play-offs and secured automatic promotion into League One six seasons later, in 2016.

The Manager: Michael Appleton

Salford-born, Michael Appleton started his career at boyhood club Manchester United, making two League Cup appearances during the 1996-97 season, before being sent out on loan to Grimsby Town, where he scored three goals in 10 games.

He left Old Trafford at the end of the season, joining Preston North End for a then club record £500,000 fee. In his three-and-a-half years at Deepdale, the midfielder made 145 appearances, scoring 15 goals, and played an important role in Preston’s promotion to Division One in 2000.

In January 2001, Appleton joined West Bromwich Albion and reached the Division One play-offs in his debut season. Disaster struck in November 2001 when Appleton suffered a serious knee injury which would eventually force him into early retirement from the game at the age of just 27.

Appleton remained with the Baggies in a coaching capacity, working with different age groups before moving up to the senior squad as assistant manager. He was placed in caretaker charge in February 2011 following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo and drew 3-3 at home to West Ham in his only game at the helm.  Following Roy Hodgson’s appointment, he reverted back to his role as assistant.

In November 2011, Appleton took up his first managerial role with Portsmouth. After falling into administration, the south-coast club were then relegated into League One in 2011-12.

In November 2012, Appleton was appointed manager of Blackpool, but resigned after just 11 games, becoming the shortest-serving manager in the club’s history, having been there for just 65 days.

He took up the vacant manager’s position at Ewood Park in January 2013, but his spell with Rovers was equally short-lived, lasting just 67 days and 15 games – the highlight being an historic 1-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates in the FA Cup.

Appleton was since rebuilt his reputation after taking over at Oxford in July 2014. He guided them to a second-place finish in League Two in 2015-16 and reached the final of the Football League Trophy at Wembley.

The Ground: Kassam Stadium

Oxford’s home ground is the Kassam Stadium, which has a capacity of 12,500 and is named after former club chairman Firoz Kassam.

The Us moved into their new stadium in 2001 after leaving the Manor Ground, which had been their home for 76 years.

Last Season: 8th, League One

The 2016-17 season was Oxford’s first back in League One, following their automatic promotion from League Two the previous season.

After a shaky start, which saw the Us occupy a place in the drop zone after three games, Michael Appleton steered the side to a creditable eighth-place finish, four points off the play-off positions.

Oxford reached the final of the Football League Trophy for the second season in succession, but again missed out on silverware after losing 2-1 to Coventry City at Wembley. They also reached the fifth round of the FA Cup after knocking out the likes of Rotherham and Newcastle, before losing to Middlesbrough.

Goalkeeper Simon Eastwood, who had joined the club following his release from Rovers, played every minute of Oxford’s 62 games in all competitions and was voted Player of the Season by both the fans and his team-mates.

Last Meeting: January 30th 2016

Ben Marshall scored twice as Rovers defeated Michael Appleton’s Oxford 3-0 in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

The winger opened the scoring from the penalty spot on 36 minutes, before new signing Tony Watt grabbed a debut goal on the stroke of half-time. Marshall then wrapped up the scoring with a fantastic free-kick 14 minutes from time.

  • Just 10 days to go until the 2017-18 EFL fixtures are released!

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