Preview: Oxford United vs. Reading – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday’s League One clash between Oxford United and Reading, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The relegation zone competes against the playoffs on Saturday when Oxford United and Reading meet in their latest League One clash.

The two teams are at opposite ends of the table and require points for drastically different reasons in what is a crucial game for the pair.

Match preview

© Reuters

Oxford head into this weekend clinging onto a place in the playoffs with just one point separating them and Stevenage, placing plenty of pressure on the team to perform.

Des Buckingham‘s men will need to show a drastic improvement in their recent form to ensure they do not slip out of the top six, as they have failed to win in their previous three matches.

The best Oxford could mount on Tuesday was a 2-2 draw against Portsmouth, with James Henry scoring a last-minute equaliser to ensure they came away from the game with at least a point.

The last time the U’s secured a win was just under a month ago against relegation-threatened Carlisle United, which might provide them with some confidence as they prepare to face strugglers Reading.

However, the Royals did manage to hold Oxford to a 1-1 draw when they faced each other in December, even though Buckingham’s men dominated the game with 61% possession.

Reading manager Ruben Selles reacts on January 23, 2024© Reuters

Reading have faced an uphill battle from the start of the season due to the four-point deduction they were handed, and since then they have been fighting to try and secure survival in the division.

Heading into this weekend, a victory could be enough to take the Royals out of the bottom four, depending on the result of the Port Vale match.

That will provide plenty of incentive for the team, who should have had an injection of confidence after going two games in a row without a defeat heading into this fixture.

Ruben Selles saw his team follow a 1-0 victory over Derby County with a 1-1 draw against Leyton Orient in midweek, proving that Reading have the credentials to take points from teams in the top half.

However, only one of Reading’s eight wins this season has taken place on the road, which is a cause for concern and an area that the team must address in the second half of the campaign.

Oxford United League One form:

Oxford United form (all competitions):

Reading League One form:

Reading form (all competitions):

Team News

General view outside Reading's Select Car Leasing Stadium before the match on January 23, 2024© Reuters

There is still concern for Sam Long and Joe Bennett heading into this weekend for the U’s, with both men having been dealing with calf problems recently.

Jamie Cumming and Fin Stevens were added to the injury list in midweek, but both men are fighting to be fit for this Saturday and could be in contention.

This weekend’s game will come too soon for Billy Bodin, Will Goodwin and Josh Murphy, though, as they are all still on the sidelines; Buckingham believes the trio will be back to face Blackpool.

Reading will no longer be able to call upon Tom McIntyre, who made the move to Portsmouth earlier this week, while Taylan Harris has joined Luton Town.

Oxford United possible starting lineup:
Eastwood; Thorniley, Moore, Brown, Leigh; McGuane, Brannagan; Goodrham, Rodrigues, Burey; Harris

Reading possible starting lineup:
Button; Yiadom, Bindon, Holmes, Dorsett; Azeez, Wing, Savage, Knibbs, Mukairu; Smith

SM words green background

We say: Oxford United 0-1 Reading

Oxford United will be the favourites heading into this weekend due to the league positions of each club, but recent form tells a different story.

Reading have been grinding out results against some of League One’s strongest teams lately, and Saturday could provide another upset.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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