DUNKLEY: I’LL NOT BE FAZED BY MEM­O­RIES OF OWN GOAL

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Chris Dunlavy

EV­ERY player dreams of scor­ing at Wem­b­ley. Un­for­tu­nately for Chey Dunkley, his big mo­ment came at the wrong end. Twelve months ago, in this very fix­ture, the Ox­ford cen­tre­back leapt to clear a Barns­ley cross, only to spear a header straight into his own net. It proved the first of three goals in 20 har­row­ing min­utes as the Tykes turned a 1-0 half­time deficit into a 3-2 vic­tory, leav­ing Michael Ap­ple­ton’s U’s bereft. Yet, as Dunkley – one of just four sur­vivors from last year’s side – re­turns to Wem­b­ley this af­ter­noon, he in­sists his mind will not wan­der to past mis­takes. “I’m not think­ing about last year,” said the 25-year-old, signed from Non-League Kid­der­min­ster in 2015. “At least not in per­sonal terms. “Those things hap­pen, even to the very best. Jamie Car­ragher scored a lot of own goals but it didn’t re­flect his abil­ity as a de­fender. You get on with it, dust your­self down. It’s all part of play­ing in de­fence. “I’m not go­ing to walk out there think­ing ‘I hope that doesn’t hap­pen’ or ‘I’d bet­ter not score an own goal again’. “I’ve never gone into games think­ing the worst. I think about what I’m go­ing to do, how I’m go­ing to per­form. What’s the point in wor­ry­ing? “If there is any mo­ti­va­tion from last year, it’s a de­ter­mi­na­tion to put things right. I felt we were meant to win that cup. We had a real good op­por­tu­nity at 1-0 and we didn’t take it.” Un­like last year, when the U’s were a League Two side, to­day Ap­ple­ton’s men start favourites against a Coven­try side doomed to rel­e­ga­tion. And, if the scouts flock­ing to the Kas­sam to watch winger Marvin John­son are any judge, his side have more than enough qual­ity to jus­tify that tag. The 26-year-old, signed from Mother­well for just £650,000 last sum­mer, is be­ing eyed by a host of Cham­pi­onship clubs and Dunkley – a team-mate of John­son at Kid­der­min­ster – says the hype is jus­ti­fied. “He’s a close mate, so I’m a bit bi­ased,” he laughs. “But he’s a very good player. Ox­ford knew that. It’s why they went and paid the money for him. “He can run all day, get at play­ers. Phys­i­cally, he’s got it all. He’s quick, athletic, strong. He’s been used as a left-back at times and he can be re­ally dan­ger­ous from there – the clas­sic mod­ern full-back. “He’s got all the at­tributes to get the top – one of a few we’ve got here. It’s no sur­prise he’s in the lime­light.” To­day marks Ox­ford’s 56th game of a gru­elling first sea­son back in League One. That to­tal could yet spi­ral to 65, but Dunkley isn’t com­plain­ing. “No­body is tired,” he says. “Ask any player – they’d rather play Satur­day-Tues­day ev­ery week than train. Es­pe­cially when we’ve got the op­por­tu­nity to look back and say ‘You know what, that wasn’t a good sea­son, It was a great sea­son’.”

HUN­GRY: Chey Dunkley, right, on de­fen­sive du­ties for the U’s

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