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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Big Match Preview

Oxford United vs. Barnet
Saturday December 4, 15:00, Kassam Stadium

Two sides looking for points to move away from the wrong end of League Two clash at the Kassam Stadium this weekend when Oxford United host Barnet.

The hosts, promoted as Conference play off winners last term, come into the game in 18th - four points above their opponents who currently lie in the relegation zone.

It's been a testing adjustment to life back in the Football League for the Oxen, who had alarmingly slipped down the table after a run of four straight defeats in Nov.

However, Chris Wilder's side pulled off the shock of the season in midweek with a 2-1 success at leaders Chesterfield, and will hope that represents a turning point in their campaign.

Wilder will also be looking to Saturday to improve a home record which has seen United beaten five times in their nine games.

Last time out, Gillingham ended their long winless away streak at the Kassam, and Torquay, Aldershot, Stockport, and Bury have also left from a trip to Oxfordshire with maximum spoils.

Wins have been attained against Morecambe, Northampton and current League Two top dogs Port Vale though, highlighting the inconsistency that has characterised the Yellows this term.

Key men for Oxford include strikers James Constable and Tom Craddock who have notched 14 goals between them. Former Sheffield Wednesday forward Steve MacLean is also in the ranks and got the winner at the b2net stadium on Tuesday.

Oxford boss Chris Wilder (left) guided his team back into the Football League

That indifferent home form will, Barnet hope, be a source of optimism as they go in search of their first win on the road this term. The Bees are one of just two clubs in the division yet to collect three points away from home.

Mark Stimson's men have collected a paltry two points from their eight away fixtures, courtesy of draws at Torquay and Morecambe. The rest - games at Chesterfield, Wycombe, Lincoln, Stockport, Shrewsbury and Crewe have all ended in defeat.

The last of those was a 7-0 thumping, which is one of the reasons why Barnet have League Two's worst defensive record away from home with 21 goals already being conceded.

It's not hard, therefore, to see why the North London outfit - perennial strugglers in the basement division - once again find themselves in trouble, currently sitting 23rd and two points adrift of safety.

With one in their last five games, albeit a thumping 4-1 win over fellow strugglers Northampton, the Underhill club also come into Saturday's match in poor form.

Joint top scorers for Barnet are veteran forward Steve Kabba and midfielder Mark Byrne - both with four goals to their name. Stimson has also recently recruited former MK Dons striker Izale McLeod to help aid them in their relegation fight.

With Oxford's home form being erratic at best, and Barnet hopeless on the road, it's difficult to see either side approaching this game confident of collecting all three points.

However, with the home side buoyed by their midweek success, coupled with their opponent's away day ills, this contest should swing in Oxford's favour.

Nobes' Prediction: Oxford United 1 Barnet 0

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