Oxford vs Walsall: Jon Guthrie says Saddlers will respond
Defender Jon Guthrie is adamant Walsall will respond in the right way following their loss to Doncaster.
The Saddlers travel to take on Oxford tomorrow having been thumped 4-1 by Grant McCann’s side last weekend.
That defeat was their first in League One this season – with Dean Keates’ men having otherwise made an impressive start to the campaign.
But Guthrie says the players know their performance last weekend was not good enough.
And he is aware they have to show a reaction at the Kassam Stadium tomorrow.
“In the changing room, everyone was down after Doncaster,” Guthrie said.
“There were a couple of discussions between the players which needed to happen.
“We are not going to accept that kind of display and we are looking to put it right.
“We never got going. We were sloppy on the ball. And we have also spoken about how we could have managed the game better.
“We were always going to lose a game at some point – but to concede four was very disappointing.
“Now we have to react, but I’m sure we will. We are going out with a point to prove.
“But we also have to remember we are a good team. We have still had a positive start to the season.
“And we are still in the play-off positions, which is always good.”
While Walsall have a point to prove tomorrow – so do Oxford with Karl Robinson’s men currently sat second bottom in the table.
On paper though, the U’s have a squad you’d expect to be competing higher up the division. And Guthrie believes they are a team that shouldn’t be underestimated.
“If you looked at Oxford’s squad before the season got under way – you’d expect them to be at the other end of the table,” the former Crewe man continued.
“In this league you never know what is going to happen – anyone can beat anyone on the day.
“They are down there at the moment and we are looking to keep them down there.
“I’m sure they will get get going as some point but we have to make sure we aren’t the team that kick-starts a run for them.”
After the loss to Doncaster, Guthrie said training has been extra sharp with Dean Keates confirming places are up for grabs.
“Everyone is fighting for their place,” the centre-back added.
“The lads who were in the team know they weren’t good enough.
“So the lads who didn’t play know if they are at it, they have a chance of playing at the weekend.
“Everyone knows we have to return to the levels that we have shown we are capable of this season.”
The Opposition: Karl Robinson and Oxford are yet to click
Karl Robinson is yet to work the magic that made him such a success at MK Dons.
The U’s boss just about kept Oxford in League One last year, despite averaging fewer points than Pep Clotet, who was sacked by the club in January.
A slow start has followed for Robinson and Oxford this season to see them sitting second-bottom in the division on five points.
However, he firmly believes good times are just around the corner for Oxford United.
“We’re a big club that’s just simmering and we’ve got to make sure this flame gets lit,” Robinson told the Oxford Mail following his side’s goalless draw at newly-promoted Wycombe Wanderers last Saturday.
Robinson was left to bemoan a lack of a clinical edge on that day, but conceding goals has proved to be a bigger problem for them.
The 0-0 with Wycombe was their first clean sheet in League One this campaign and in eight fixtures, the U’s have already leaked 17 goals.
Thirteen of those came in a dreadful start to the season when a 4-0 thrashing at Barnsley on the opening day was followed by a 2-0 reverse at home to Fleetwood Town, a 4-1 hammering at Portsmouth and a 3-2 defeat to Accrington Stanley in which Oxford were twice in front.
They finally got off the mark with a 3-1 win at home to Burton Albion and only one more defeat – against Coventry – has followed, while they have shared the spoils with Sunderland and Wycombe.
On that latter stalemate, Robinson added: “We’ve won the moral fight here, but we’ve not won the war because the result is the be-all and end-all.
“But how can you criticise anyone, other than not taking our chances?
“I questioned my players’ desire (following the defeat to Coventry last weekend), but it was answered in abundance.”
He added: “At no stage were we not the best team.
“You very rarely see a team come and for 90 minutes be as dominant as we were.”
Former Queens Park Rangers striker Jamie Mackie – capped nine times by Scotland – was a marquee summer signing, but after not netting in eight games this season has picked up a hip injury.
Robinson was hoping to sign Nicky Maynard if Mackie was ruled out for an extended period.
Pie and a pint:
The George Inn is a 15-20-minute walk from the Kassam Stadium and serves a range of pies and sausage rolls.
It had been 36 years since the Saddlers won at Oxford, but Joe Edwards and Tyler Roberts netted in a 2-1 victory 12 months ago.
The key man:
Morgan Ferrier scored before his clash with Luke Leahy last weekend. A chance to move on and add to his three goals.
The former Wolves wideman is still only 29, so should be in the prime of his career.
Starred under Kenny Jackett at Molineux and is known for his deadly delivery from out wide.