Last seasons 13th place was a disappointment to many fans, but Michael Appleton now has a full season ahead of him to look forward to a fresh start. A positive that sprouted from last years performance was the high attendances. The Kassam Stadium reached its peak attendance against York City in April, 9000 fans strolled through the turnstiles that day, and with success just round the corner, many more fans should be encouraged to join in the fun.
Despite the fans keeping the faith, Oxford were a desperate disappointment on the field. Many of the players failed to reach their potentials that were widely reported at the beginning of the season. An exception to this statement is top scorer Danny Hylton. The former Rotherham striker needed no time to settle in as he netted 16 times in his debut season at the Kassam. The 26-year-old is not blessed with blistering pace or brutish strength, but had the goal-scoring prowess that fired him to 7th in the scorers charts. In truth, his total could have been much higher, he had blasted in 10 goals by mid January, the goals dried out soon later. His consistency will need to improve if the U’s are to be flirting with the play-offs rather than relegation zone this time round.
Much of the squad has been preserved from last season. Key names such as, Joe Skarz, Michael Collins, and skipper Jake Wright, all decided on a further stay in Oxfordshire. Former West Bromwich Albion youth product Kemar Roofe signed a three-year-deal at the League Two club in May, after a successful loan spell at the club. The 22-year-old could have blown it after failing to score in original 5 game loan spell, but boss Michael Appleton opted to hand the youngster another chance, and boy did he grasp it with both hands. A crucial brace in the narrow victory over Wycombe Wanderers, and a further two against relegated Tranmere earned him the permanent contract that he secured upon the conclusion of the season.
I have failed to mention the Oxfords excellent defensive record thus far, they actually conceded 13 goals less than their nearest rivals Northampton Town in 2014/15 Credit must go to the inseparable centre back partnership of Jake Wright and Johnny Mullins, both have been through thick and thin with their current club, but it will be nothing compared to the pressure that will be placed upon their shoulders this time round. Oxford have the potential to become a huge Football League club, they are just tapping into that with the Conference promotion of 2009/10. Fans and media alike will expect great things from Oxford this term, and failure to provide could end Michael Appleton’s spell in charge, and the culling of many playing staff. On the other hand, a promotion push will bring joy to thousands, and who knows, they could even find themselves playing third tier football this time next year.