Friday, 14 October 2016

Kassam Stadium – Oxford United

9th October 2016

Oxford 1-3 Wimbledon

Utterly illogical I know, but I sort of thought beforehand given the city of Oxford enjoys all those academic and literary associations, that the locals who come along to support their club would be a sedate and introspective bunch.  Not a bit of it, I am glad to relate.  For the atmosphere at the Kassam Stadium, for most of the match anyway, in the East Stand was as pleasingly raucous as I think I have encountered for some time.  Cheer-led by a noisy bunch in the centre section, the rammy effortlessly radiated out even to the extremities where I had seated myself, as Oxfordians of all ages got down to the serious  business of supporting their team.  Clearly, as far as these folks were concerned, having a world-renowned seat of learning in their city was just an accident of geography.

Not even Tom ELLIOT heading the visitors into the lead after 20 minutes dented the home supporters’ ardour; this reverse merely a signal for the throng to redouble the volume on their curiously unintelligible chanting.  Were they singing "We are the Oxford blood", at one point?  It certainly sounded like it.  

What did rain on their parade though, was Wimbledon’s second four minutes from the break.  As with the opener a corner was not cleared properly, this time the ball falling to Wes Thomas out on the Dons' right.  He scurried along the edge of the 18 yard box before seeming to lose control of the ball.  In an effort to retain possession he lunged and appeared to catch home defender Dean Parrett.  With everyone else in the ground expecting a free-kick to be awarded, Darius CHARLES coolly curled the ball past home 'keeper Simon Eastwood.

The fans' energies were immediately transferred to informing referee Darren Deadman what they thought of his abilities.  He was initially labeled a “Sunday League, Referee!” through “You’re just a twat on the telly” (the match was live on Sky) to finally “Just a c**t with a whistle”.  I won’t make a joke at the expense of the whistler’s surname, as I think I already did so in another blog, following a similarly contentious decision I saw him make at Millwall a couple of seasons ago.

Not surprisingly, Wimbledon snaffling a third goal seconds before the break through Andy BARCHAM hardly improved the crowd’s mood.

But to their credit, they were back firmly and vociferously behind their team after the break, and were rewarded with an early goal.  Darius CHARLES, who really enjoyed quite an eventful afternoon (he had set up his side's opener), inexplicably kicked a harmless looking Chris Maguire cross into his own net.

But, an entertaining pinball interlude around the hour mark aside, where the ball just refused to enter the net, United never really looked like getting the second goal which would have set us all up for a grandstand finish.  And the match sort of just dribbled to a conclusion.

  Wimbledon's Jake Reeves & Oxford's Chris Maguire indulge in a bit of harmless horseplay

A pic, for no other reason than female officials are still quite rare at this level, of Lisa Rashid.

Alex Macdonald squeezes himself between visitors Dannie Bulman and Jake Reeves..... 

.....but his shot comes to naught, striking Darius Charles on the foot.

This win for Wimbledon was actually a rather momentous one, I learned later.  For it meant 14 years after the club had been formed and started life in the ninth tier of English football, Wimbledon had for the first time managed to climb above their nemesis MK Dons in the league table.  

Which struck me as quite an achievement.  Not, of course, that many of the good people of Oxford sitting around me would have cared. 

This chap had a truly stupendous set of testicles, which I have delicately attempted not to focus on.

The Kassam Stadium South Stand.

Rear of North Stand

A word on the car park.
You really need to get there early or be prepared for a LONG walk
...and you need to leave early, or be prepared for a LONG wait.

Panorama of the Kassam Stadium, Oxford United.

The Kassam Stadium North Stand.  Away fans are housed at the far end.

Panorama of the Kassam Stadium, Oxford United.

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