2023/24 Season Review Part 4

November was a tumultuous month for United in the 2023/24 season as the club changed managers.

The month started with little indication as to what was to follow, with a routine win over National League side Maidenhead United in the first round of the FA Cup. Billy Bodin scored both goals in a 2-0 victory, one in each half, with manager Liam Manning suspended and having to watch the game from the stands.

That would be Manning’s last involvement with the club as he left to take over at Bristol City, taking his assistant Chris Hogg with him, with Craig Short stepping up to fill the void as a temporary measure.

Short’s first team selection proved a telling one, as United put the Chelsea Under-21 team to the sword in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy. Oxford opened the scoring in the 14th minute as Sonny Perkins tapped into an empty net for his only Oxford goal. Three minutes later, Jordan Thorniley joined in as he scored his first goal in United’s colours while in the second half it was Josh Murphy’s turn to score his first goal for the Yellows (but by no means his last). Murphy doubled his tally shortly afterwards before Mark Harris made it a nap hand for the U’s. The icing on the cake, though, was 15-year-old Leo Snowden’s debut, making him the youngest ever player to play for Oxford’s first team.

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Back in League action and a trip to Brisbane Road to take on Leyton Orient. Ruben Rodrigues proved the catalyst for an excellent win, opening the scoring midway through the first half and adding his second right at the start of the second period. In between, Bodin also scored to leave the O’s with a mountain to climb. And climb it they almost did, reducing the arrears a minute later as an unfortunate bobble took the ball past James Beadle via Fin Stevens’ shin. On the hour Ruel Sotirou volleyed home to give Orient hope but United held out to claim three vital points.

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On 16th November, Oxford announced the appointment of Des Buckingham as new head coach, following his record-breaking season with Mumbai FC.

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His first game in charge was a 2-0 defeat at Cheltenham Town, but that was followed three days later with a very creditable goalless draw at home to promotion rivals Bolton Wanderers, who were top of the table as the month drew to a close, with Oxford in third place.


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