Oxford United midfielder Mark Sykes has told The Oxford Mail that his side’s fixture list this month illustrates the challenge a League One campaign presents.
Oxford tasted defeat at last season’s League Two champions Cheltenham Town last time out extending their winless run to four games and will hope to reverse this trend when they host Gillingham on Saturday.
However, despite Gillingham currently sitting in 19th place, Sykes is expecting a challenge just as tough as the one they faced at Whaddon Road. Sykes told The Mail “Honestly, Cheltenham got promoted last year so in this league, you’re not going to get an easy game. Saturday’s going to be tough, we know what Gillingham play like. It’s the same whoever you play, so we’ve got to stick to our guns and hopefully the points come.”
Sykes is aware that Oxford are continuing a trend from last season in which they took only 19 of their 74 points from the teams who finished in the top half of the table.
This season 1 point from their current tally of 12 have been from their games with teams in these positions and Sykes knows that this needs addressing saying “Last year, the lower half of the league was where we were getting most of our joy. We need to sort ourselves out and get back on track.”
Oxford were very reliant on their games against the division’s strugglers last season for the majority of their points and their form against these teams gave them a play-off place. The U’s must wonder what might have been if they could have replicated this form against the stronger sides in the league but for now must focus on picking up points where they can to ensure they don’t lose pace with the early frontrunners.