Oxford United v West Ham United

Preview Percy enjoyed last weekend. Wins for England and Essex, defeats for Spurs and Millwall all preceded the defeat of Manchester United. In fact someone swears they even saw the old one smile. Nearly. Here's his look at the trip up the M40 to Oxford United for a League Cup 3rd round tie...

Next up it's back to the diversion of the League Cup where we will be hosted by Oxford United. 7:45pm is kick-off time and it's a "straight to penalties" affair should the scores be level at full time.

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Oxford then. It's been a while since our paths crossed. Since we last met in 1993 they landed in financial stormy waters - it was said at the time that the ill-fated Joey Beauchamp transfer was agreed to enable them to pay their wage bill.

This being in the days before satnavs and stuff, and with Beauchamp apparently being too thick to read a map he got homesick, not realising that the clue to location of east London lies in its name. He failed to make a first XI appearance with us and was offloaded to Swindon within two months of having signed. Even Swindon was too far away from the dreaming spires for the player who was back at the Manor Ground before the end of the season.

After that they plummeted their way through the lower divisions, finally getting themselves relegated out of the League at the end of 2005-06. If you were reading this column a few years ago you will remember that, in one of those lovely coincidences that football throws up from time to time, they were replaced by Accrington Stanley, the club that they themselves had replaced back in 1962. What are the odds eh?

They have a new stadium since last we were there. The Kassam Stadium - named after the club's owner at the time of construction - is a bit of an oddity. Behind one goal is a car park, which, presumably, will be replaced by a fourth stand at some stage if and when the club's standing improves. They moved in back in 2001 and Beauchamp retired a season later, presumably having gone all teary-eyed and homesick for the Manor Ground up the road.

Oxford currently inhabit what we used to call the Third Division back in the day when league names used to make some sort of sense. They have had a patchy start to the season. An opening day point at Sunderland and a 1-0 home win against Peterborough were ok enough. However their next five games saw four defeats and a draw.

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The ship has been steadied over the past few though, with wins over Tranmere (3-0 at home) and Lincoln (6-0 away) with a 0-0 draw at Bolton being sandwiched in between. All of which leaves Oxford in twelfth place with twelve points from 10 games. In the League Cup they entered at the first round stage, beating Peterborough 1-0 at home before beating Millwall 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Having taken over the helm in March, boss Karl Robinson got to grips with remoulding the squad in his own image during the close season, thus keeping Daisy the full-time personal assistant with the beautiful smile quiet for an hour or two. As soon as the window opened they brought in a young centre-back from Bury by the name of Sam Allardyce. He's the grandson of our former boss and, maybe unsurprisingly, his defending style is described as "old school". At the age of 19 he's been given a one-year deal, so is there with an eye to the future.

At right-back they brought in another youngster in the form of 18-year-old Kevin Berkoe. The defender arrived on a free from Wolves, whose management presumably discovered somewhat belatedly that Berkoe wasn't a Portuguese surname. Both of his appearances this season have come in the League Cup, so look out for him on Wednesday.

Top scorer in the league is Tarique Fosu who commanded an undisclosed fee when moving from Charlton in July. Fosu's spot at the top of the Oxford scoring charts came virtue of his hat-trick at Lincoln at the weekend which, added to his debut goal against Sunderland on the opening day, gives him four so far.

Some of the new intake have arrived in the form of loan signings. Cast your mind back a year or two and the media were all over young Ben Woodburn. He became the Scouse's youngest ever goalscorer. Never ones to miss an opportunity to waste a few gallons of print ink praising Liverpool, journalists were falling over themselves to be the first to use the phrase "the new Michael Owen". Then, nothing.

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What happened was that he disappeared into the black hole that is Sheffield United. They barely picked him and when December came, after an ankle injury made first team time even more unlikely, Liverpool recalled him to base. He has a so-called Champions League winners medal from last season's win over Spurs despite playing as much a part in the "victory" as I did. Actually it's a moot point whether anyone should receive a medal for beating Spurs in the first place, but there you go. He arrived in the summer on a season-long deal and has already made more appearances than he did up at Sheffield United.

We may see former Hammer Rob Hall on display. In the league the striker has been used only from the bench so far this season but he has started both League Cup matches and in the FL Trophy. With manager Robinson suggesting that he will be rotating the squad for this one, a starting place against his old club looks likely for Hall whose senior career with us was largely spent on loan elsewhere - including a couple of spells with Oxford.

Us? Nice and easy this weekend, wasn't it? Both goals weren't half bad. Andriy Yarmolenko's finish was the highlight of a first half that wasn't exactly overloaded with quality. I actually called Aaron Creswell's goal as well - pointing out that after his first free-kick he now had a better angle to play with - as well as having had a sighter. Excellent finish from a player who has had a awful lot of unwarranted stick of late. He will have given MP food for selection thought for this weekend coming.

Funniest moment of the day came at the end when a few disconsolate visiting players loped over towards the away end to applaud the visiting supporters - only to find the section nearly empty. Those engineering works between South Croydon and Coulsdon necessitating an early departure.

The one downside of the afternoon came with the departure of Ryan Fredericks with a "muscular injury". He won't be available for this one, though they are hopeful for the weekend.

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We won't see any of the others on the sick back for this one. Manuel Lanzini will be a couple of weeks, Winston Reid will want a couple of Under 23 games under his belt and Michail Antonio is gonna be a while, one would think. Arthur Masuaku will have served his suspension though - no doubt Mike Dean is currently claiming an assist for Cresswell's goal at the weekend by pointing out he wouldn't have been there to score but for Masuaku's red.

Both sides are likely to ring the changes for this one and both sides will be reasonably happy with their efforts at the weekend - though I suppose we ought to factor in the fact that there was a difference in class between our relative opponents. We shouldn't read too much into our win over Man Utd - after all they are no Lincoln, are they.

It was, all things considered, quite a strong side that we put out for the trip to Newport in the last round. I suspect that will be the case this time around too.

Despite Robinson trying on a bit of the old kidology ("Gillingham's more important") I reckon we will have too much for them whatever the strength of side we field. I will therefore be placing the ?2.50 that was going to go on punditry lessons for Gary Neville on an away win. Let's fire up the Winstone Turf Accountancy App and place the whole bally lot on a 3-1 to us then.

Enjoy the game!

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When last we met at their place: Lost 1-0 (Division 1 March 1993)
Odd one this. I was there but I'll be damned if I can remember a thing about the game. I can't even find a match report so you'll just have to take my word about the result.

Referee: Robert Jones

One of the so-called "Select Group 2" bunch that largely operate in the Championship. Not one I can recall having encountered before now.


Danger Man: Tarique Fonsu

The former Charlton man comes into this one on the back of a hat-trick, so he will be full of beans.

Percy's Poser

Last week we visited the pages of the Manchester Evening News for a story that was a bit serious but selected for its splendid use of headline. We asked you to supply the missing words from the following:

Furious dad storms into house and has 'XXXX-XXXX' after thinking man in his underpants was giving his daughters XXX XXXXXXX

Congratulations to Mrs Enid Dellamura of Silvertown who correctly identified the missing words as "argy-bargy" and "ice lollies".

We return to the lighter side of life with this week's visit to the pages of the Oxford Mail who ask us the following question:

"Fancy learning how to XXXXXX XXXXX?"

For anyone struggling for the answer I would give you the following clue: the only possible answer to the question is "no".

Good luck everyone!

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