2023/24 Season Review Part 3

October began as September had finished, with United on top form in the hunt for promotion.

Shrewsbury Town were the first visitors of the month and they were sent packing as Oxford’s scintillating form continued. United were already a goal up through Fin Stevens’ first senior goal when the Shrews were reduced to ten men with half-an-hour remaining. Ciaron Brown doubled the lead shortly afterwards and top-scorer Greg Leigh (from left-back) added a third to complete the scoring.

Bristol Rovers were United’s next victims in a game that saw Oxford reduced to nine men and Rovers to ten. Billy Bodin opened the scoring against his former club. A change of shape for the Yellows in the second half led to almost total dominance, and the Pirates were scuttled when Jevani Brown was dismissed for a second yellow card. Sam Long extended United’s lead but a nervy finish was ensured when Aaron Collins struck late on. A second yellow for Oisin Smyth restored parity in team numbers before Stan Mills was sent off for a late tackle. United held on, though, to deflate the Gas.


A third consecutive home game saw Blackpool score a late equaliser to deny Oxford a fifth consecutive win. That man Leigh was at it again, coming back from international duty with Jamaica to open the scoring ten minutes before half time. First-half dominance led to a more even second half and in the third minute of stoppage time, former United striker Jordan Rhodes glanced home a header to level the scores and ensure United’s first draw of the season.


A midweek trip to Wigan Athletic ended in a 2-0 reverse for the U’s, who failed to win for the third game in a row when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Wycombe Wanderers at the Kassam Stadium. Leading through a Ruben Rodrigues goal at the break, Wycombe struck back to take the lead through two Luke Leahy penalties. With the game deep into stoppage time, a foul on Mark Harris gave substitute Cameron Brannagan the opportunity to equalise from the penalty spot. And there’s only going to be one outcome in that scenario.


If October hadn’t quite lived up to the highs of August and September, at least the month ended as it had begun, with another Oxford United victory. A Hallowe’en trip to the Imps of Lincoln City ended 2-0 to the U’s – three points that would have a vital impact at the end of the season. Ciaron Brown opened the scoring in the first half, while after the break a Stan Mills cross was deflected into his own goal by goalkeeper Lukas Jensen was enough to keep United in second place ahead of what would be a tumultuous November.


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