Ap­ple­ton cool over U21 talk as U’s sparkle

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP THIRD ROUND - By Steven Chicken

OX­FORD boss Michael Ap­ple­ton did not rule him­self out of the Eng­land Un­der-21s job af­ter his side knocked Cham­pi­onship Rother­ham out of the FA Cup.

Ap­ple­ton ap­plauded the U’s fans to­wards the end of the game when they sang ‘Michael Ap­ple­ton, we want you to stay’.

But he said: “I’ve not had con­tact and I don’t re­ally ex­pect to.

“It’s a job that ob­vi­ously is a fan­tas­tic role for who­ever does get the job.

“From my point of view you look at the re­mit of what they’re look­ing for and prob­a­bly peo­ple put two-and-two to­gether and think ‘he ticks a lot of boxes, it must be him’.

He added: “I’ve just been try­ing to keep my fo­cus on ob­vi­ously what I’m do­ing with Ox­ford.

“I think it’s dif­fi­cult for any man­ager with that type of role to come out and be brave enough to say ‘I wouldn’t be in­ter­ested’, but the re­al­ity is it’s just pure spec­u­la­tion.”

Ox­ford left-back Marvin John­son went close to a spec­tac­u­lar early goal af­ter drib­bling from his own half, but Lewis Price tipped his shot over the bar.

Price again kept things level 30 min­utes later by sav­ing former Miller Chris Maguire’s penalty af­ter Kirk Broad­foot fouled Ryan Tay­lor.

Tay­lor put one past his home­town former club as he fired Ox­ford ahead on 41 min­utes from Robert Hall’s lay­off.

Danny Ward spanked an equaliser into the top cor­ner early in the sec­ond half, and Will Vaulks hit the post with a 25-yarder ten min­utes later.

An­other fine Price save kept out Liam Ser­combe’s dan­ger­ous curler, but the re­prieve proved short-lived as un­marked Phil Ed­wards headed in the re­sult­ing cor­ner.

Kane Hem­mings tapped in a third from John­son’s cross on 89 min­utes, mak­ing Tom Adeyemi’s im­me­di­ate re­ply mere flat­tery for Rother­ham.

Rother­ham care­taker man­ager Paul Warne said: “It seems like wasted breath now but I kept say­ing to the lads ‘if you start the game poor you can’t get your­self back up’, in the same way that I think Leeds last week un­der­es­ti­mated us a lit­tle bit and we out­played them.

“Some of the in­di­vid­u­als went out there and un­der-per­formed first half in a big way and I thought Ox­ford de­served their lead at half-time, I’ve no is­sues with that at all.

“They looked sharper than us, I hate to ad­mit they looked fit­ter than us.

“They had more en­ergy than us, more de­sire than us.”

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