FIVE-STAR U’S THRILL ANXIOUS APPLETON
MICHAEL Appleton came into this game knowing Oxford needed a reaction to their first home defeat of the season against Barnet last weekend – and he was overjoyed his players duly delivered with a five-star display.
The U’s manager was treated to an emphatic win at the Lamex Stadium against a Stevenage side that finished the game with nine men.
And although the game was full of incident Appleton said he was always certain of the win.
“Even if they had 12 men we would have won that game, I think we were that good,” he said.
“It was annoying to give the goal away but I thought Sam Slocombe did well to recompose himself.
“When it was 2-1 we got a little bit sloppy in a three or four-minute period and they broke away and Sam had to save from Tom Pett, but that’s the only save he had to make in the game.
“The first five minutes is arguably the best we’ve started this season and we could have scored two or three in the first five minutes because we were that good.
“I’m absolutely delighted with how we went about our business.”
Oxford had a host of chances in the opening ten minutes and their pressure finally paid off when Jesse Joronen’s smart save fell to the feet of Ryan Taylor who sent it in through the keeper’s legs. Stevenage got an undeserved lifeline minutes later when Sam Slocombe’s poor clearance was lofted into the goal by Chris Whelpdale from 40 yards out.
Oxford’s continued pressure soon earned them a penalty but Liam Sercombe – who was brought down for the spot kick by Dean Parrett – saw his effort excellently saved by Joronen. The good work of Joronen was undone when Jamie McCombe saw red after bringing down Danny Hylton in the box allowing Sercombe to make amends and give his side the lead.
The sending off of Michael Tonge in the second half was the catalyst for further goals and Alex MacDonald got the third shortly after the dismissal, before Taylor grabbed his second and the highly impressive Kemar Roofe added a fifth.
The loss sees Stevenage struggling near the bottom end of the table with one win from their last eight league games.
And though the pressure is starting to build on boss Teddy Sheringham, the ex-Spurs striker remains defiant.
“Without a doubt,” he said, when asked if he was the man for the job.
“It looks humiliating, but if you go down to nine men it’s a tough game and it looks like we’re all over the place.
“But the damage was done in the first 20 minutes and we need to put that right and then we can compete in games.
“I didn’t think the first half was well competed, I think Oxford competed well and it was amazing that we were still in the game to be honest, it wasn’t good enough and that’s down to me.”
STAR MAN KEMAR ROOFE
Oxford KNEESY DOES IT: Alex MacDonald celebrates the third goal Inset: Liam Sercombe doubles Oxford United’s lead