The EFL League One match coming up this Saturday, 5 October 2019, between Accrington Stanley F.C. and Oxford United F.C. will take place at WHAM Stadium in Accrington, Lancashire, England. In their most recent match, Accrington earned not only a victory, but also recorded their first clean sheet of the year with a 1-0 win over Southend United F.C.. It was Colby Bishop, who leads the team in scoring with 4 goals, returning from injury to score the deciding goal against Southend. Accy has rebounded from a tough start to go unbeaten over their past 3 matches, and have now climbed their way up to 17th in the table. They have also managed to give themselves a bit of breathing room, in that they are now 6 points clear of the relegation line.
Oxford has been on an absolute roll the past few weeks, and have won their past 2 matches by a combined score of 9-0. As good as their offense has been over those two matches, their defense has been even more impressive. They have recorded 4 consecutive clean sheets (5 counting their EFL Cup match with West Ham United F.C.), which has been a massive turn of events after they conceded 15 goals through their first 7 matches. If they can keep up this pace on defense, then they could be truly formidable given that their 22 goals scored are just one fewer than Peterborough United F.C.'s league leading total of 23. Their recent unbeaten run has coincided with a recent hot streak by James Henry. During the past 4 matches Henry has scored 6 goals, after not having scored prior to that this season, and now leads the team in scoring. Tarique Fosu also recently had a hat trick in their 6-0 blowout of Lincoln City F.C., and is second on the club with 4 goals scored.
Accrington Stanley vs Oxford United Vital Information
This match can be viewed on Accrington Stanley iFollow or in the United States, and in the UK at 10:00 AM U.S. ET/3:00 PM GMT.
Referee appointments have Martin Coy as the referee, with assistants Matthew Parry and Gary Hilton, and the fourth official Anthony Moore.
Both clubs are free of suspensions, but each is has a bit of news on the injury front. Accrington's striker Colby Bishop is listed as a game time decision in spite of playing last week. For Oxford, they currently have 2 long term injuries with Jamie Hanson and George Thorne, and Accrington continues to be without Courtney Baker-Richardson.
This will be the 17th meeting all time between Accrington Stanley F.C. and Oxford United. In the previous 16 meetings, Oxford has won 5 times, Accrington has won 5 times, and there has been 6 draws. The most recent meeting between them was a 4-2 Accrington win at WHAM Stadium in Accrington on 19 February 2019, and Accrington has won each of the past 3 match-ups between the two clubs. The last win for Oxford in this series was a 3-1 victory at Accrington on 3 October 2015. These clubs didn't first meet until 2010, but they have met at least once in every calendar year since, with the exception of 2017
Five Points That Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
After struggling at times earlier in the season defensively, Oxford has been able to turn things around without any changes in personnel from opening day. Goalkeeper Simon Eastwood has started every game, and his form has seemed to match the club's results for the most part. In a 4 game stretch between 17 August and 31 August Eastwood had a save percentage below 60% in each of those matches. That included a match against Bristol Rovers F.C. where he allowed 3 goals, and didn't make any saves. In the past 4 matches, he has turned away all 11 shots that he has faced. Even after the 4 consecutive clean sheets and 11 consecutive saves, his save percentage on the year still sits at a middling 62.5% to give an idea of how badly he struggles earlier in the year. Eastwood is in his 4th season as the full time starter for The U's, and has been outstanding throughout his time. He has a career save percentage that is just a tick above 70%, and a combined 40 clean sheets in the previous 3 seasons with Oxford. Judging by those numbers, I would expect that his recent form is closer to what we will see for the rest of the season, then when he was struggling with a sub-60% save percentage.
It would seem that the improved form of Eastwood has been aided by improved play of the defense in front of him. After allowing 5 or more shots on target in 4 of their first 9 league matches, they have allowed just 1 shot on target in each of their past 2 matches. They return most of their starters from a unit that allowed 64 goals, which ranked them 14th last season. Looking over the their game to game lineups it appears that the quartet of Josh Ruffels, Robert Dickie, John Mousinho, and Chris Cadden have solidified themselves as the first choice back line for Oxford manager Karl Robinson. Ruffels, Dickie, and Mousinho are all established starters who have been with The U's for a number of seasons. The 22-year-old Cadden is in his first year with the club, and in England, having come over from Motherwell F.C. of the Scottish Premiership. They have a nice blend of youth and experience, with the 33-year-old Mousinho as the elder statesman of the group, while the other 3 are all 25-years-old or younger. Approaching the season's quarter point it is beginning to look like the addition of Cadden may ultimately raise them from a middle of the pack, to an upper echelon defensive unit.
I have talked at length about how many new players Accrington has on their roster this season, especially up front, and every week it seems like the group is starting to become more comfortable in John Coleman's system. Bishop and Dion Charles look like they will be a formidable duo up front, and could easily see both getting to the 15 goal mark this year. Joe Pritchard has struggled to find playing time over more experienced players in a crowded midfield, but has looked like Accrington's most dangerous creator when he has gotten on the pitch. Jordan Clark is another guy who has been outstanding over the past month as well. Veteran Sean McConville hasn't quite gotten things going yet, but once he hits form, and once Baker-Richardson gets back, Accrington could end up being a dangerous team offensively. Last season, their 51 goals scored were among the lowest totals in the league, however, after rebuilding their entire offense they should almost assuredly improve upon that total this season. It always takes time when molding together this many new pieces, but it is almost without question that this is the most talented squad that Accy has every assembled.
Among the new faces, none has been more important than the arrival of Jerome Opoku. From almost the moment he first stepped onto the pitch, he has been Accrington's best player. On loan from Fulham F.C., and in his first professional season, it is clear that Opoku is a guy we will see playing in the Premier League sooner rather than later. In baseball, a common scouting term in a "5 tool player". This refers to a player who has all 5 "tools" that are desirable in a baseball prospect (the ability to hit for average, the ability to hit for power, foot speed, arm throwing strength, and fielding ability). Opoku is certainly an association football version of a "5 tool player" in the he can do a little bit of everything. In fact, it was his tremendous assist that set up Bishop's goal last Saturday. While part of Accrington's improved form can be attributed to players becoming more comfortable in the system, it directly correlates to the arrival of Opoku. In the first 5 matches of the season, before Opoku joined the club, Accrington was 1-1-3, while the they are 1-3-1 in 5 games since he joined the club. If you have a chance to watch the game you will find that he is involved in nearly every facet of the game, including handling most of their throw-ins. Also, in spite of his youth and inexperience at this level, he has become their most vocal field general in terms of directing other players on the pitch.
Looking at the betting line, this looks to be what is known as a stay away game. In other words, there is nothing about the line that is out of the ordinary. When the oddsmakers set a fairly straight up line like this, it generally means they don't have a real good read on how the match is going to go, and just want to get in an even amount of money on both sides. Oxford is favored in spite of being on the road, but given their recent form that is no surprise. They are not favored tremendously though, as you can still win 6 quid for every 5 quid you bet on them. (In other words, paying at better than even money they are favored in the sense that the payout is lower than a bet on Accrington pays out. However, they are not a true favorite in the sense that you are having to bet on them at less than even money.) Accrington is paying out at 19/10, or just fractionally less than than 2-1. A draw is sitting at 5/2 (2 1/2 to 1) which is a pretty common draw line. Given the peripheral stats and run of form I would expect Oxford to be favored slightly more than they are, the take away on this though is that the bookmakers think Stanley is better than their record and goal differential. The last thing to take into account in the on is the fact that Stanley won both matches last year, which is always something to take under consideration. The thing that jumped out to me however, was that both matches last season were high scoring, with the clubs combining to score 11 goals between them in the two contests. If you can find a book offering an over/under total bet on this match, the over might be the money bet.
Accrington Stanley vs Oxford United Prediction
We have a couple of clubs that are familiar with each other enough to call it a rivalry. That being in then sense that over the past decade they have found themselves in the same tier almost every season, and that the matches have been hotly contested. As mentioned above, each team has 5 victories apiece in the series, and there have been 6 draws, so this is likely to be a cracker of a match. Accrington has gotten the better of Oxford of late, but The U's currently have the better squad on paper, and are one of the hottest team's in League One. I have a feeling that the folks at WHAM Stadium tomorrow are in for a cracker of a match. Like I said above, last season, both match-ups between them saw plenty of goals, and I see no reason that it isn't more of the same tomorrow. I see this one going back and forth with several lead changes, but with one side ultimately grabbing a late equalizer, then both clubs walking away with a well earned, and hard fought point.
Prediction: Accrington Stanley - 3 Oxford United - 3