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Match Previews

Preview: Oxford United v Pools

22 April 2016

We turn our attentions to the weekend by bringing you everything you need to know ahead of Saturday's visit to Oxford United.

Oxford United v Hartlepool United
Sky Bet League Two
Saturday 23rd April 2016
Kick-off: 3pm

The Story So Far
Oxford United’s fans may tell you that they are historically prone to a late-season wobble but boss Michael Appleton will hope any jitters can be put to one side as they target automatic promotion.

The U’s dropped one place to third following Tuesday’s round of fixtures but just six points from the last available fifteen either side of defeat to Barnsley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final means there may be nerves on display this weekend.

Oxford have built this season’s successes on a stubbornness which has seen them lose fewer games than everyone in the division apart from champions Northampton Town – and only Wycombe Wanderers have conceded fewer than their 41.

Interestingly, they’ve found victories on their travels easier to come by than at The Kassam Stadium though – only one side inside League Two’s top ten have won fewer on home soil this term.

One To Watch
Oxford boss Michael Appleton will be crossing his fingers that Kemar Roofe can shake-off the injury he picked up in the warm-up at Newport County on Tuesday in time to face Pools.

After spending time on loan at The Kassam Stadium last term, the 23-year-old delighted U’s fans when he agreed a permanent switch from West Brom during the summer and he’s enjoyed a brilliant campaign.

He’s hit the net 25 times so far, including a hat-trick in their 4-0 win over Dagenham & Redbridge in mid-March - though the five games since is the longest sequence he’s gone without a goal all season.

Last Meeting
Saturday 28th November 2015
Hartlepool United 0
Oxford United 1 (Hylton 70)

Hartlepool United: Carson, Magnay (Walker 61), Carroll, Bates, Jackson, Featherstone, Duckworth, Gray (Oyenuga 74), Naismith, Oates (Bingham 75), Mandron.
Subs not used: Bartlett, Harrison, Jones, Fenwick.

Oxford United: Buchel, Skarz, Mullins, Dunkley, Baldock, Roofe, Sercombe, Lundstram, Hoban (O’Dowda 83), MacDonald (Rose 89), Maguire (Hylton 62).
Subs not used: Slocombe, Long, Evans, Ruffels.

Head To Head
There have only been fifteen previous competitive meetings between the two clubs and Oxford United have the slight edge, having won eight in comparison to Pools’ eight.

However, Pools won on their last visit to The Kassam Stadium last term – a 2-0 victory was clinched by goals from Ryan Bird and Neil Austin amidst a winning run that would help clinch survival.

The Kassam Stadium has actually been a happy hunting ground for Pools since it opened in 2001; we’ve visited four times so far and won on three occasions.

Team News
Craig Hignett has no new injury worries going in to Saturday’s game but must decide whether to make any changes following Tuesday evening’s defeat to Accrington Stanley.

Ben Toner will take charge of Saturday’s game at The Kassam Stadium after being drafted in as a late replacement for Chris Kavanagh, who was originally scheduled to be on the whistle.

It will be the fourth time that Toner has officiated a Pools game – his last was as recently as February when he was at The Vic to oversee our 2-1 defeat to Stevenage.

Toner also saw us defeat Newport County at The Vic the opening month of the campaign and he was also in charge when we overcame East Thurrock United in the FA Cup last term.

His most recent outing was last weekend when he refereed Cambridge United’s 0-0 draw with Carlisle United at The Abbey Stadium – a game in which he showed red cards to two Carlisle players.

Ticket Information
Tickets for the game are no longer available from The Vic in advance but Pools fans will be able to buy them on the day from the CASH-ONLY North Ticket Office at The Kassam Stadium.

Live Commentary
Pools fans all over the world will be able to listen to full online commentary of Saturday’s game by logging-on to Pools PlayerHD from 2.50pm.

Click here now for more information on accessing live commentary of every game on Pools PlayerHD.

Oxford United have been installed as big 4/11 favourites for the win, while Pools are rated a 8/1 shot for victory and the draw is priced at 18/5 with our friends at Sky Bet.

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