Oxford United (h) – JPT South Final Leg 1 – 14/01/16

Oxford United BadgeMillwall gained their first win of 2016 on Saturday, as they ground out a 2-1 victory at struggling Oldham Athletic, with Lee Gregory and Steve Morison on the score-sheet. This Thursday, the Sky Sports cameras visit The Den for the first leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Area Final with Oxford United. Kevin Spackman provides ‘The View From The Opposition’…

Name: Kevin Spackman

Twitter: @kevinspackman

First Oxford game: It would have been in the 1989/90 season, but I’m not sure of the exact game. My Mum’s family are big Watford fans, so I would imagine it would’ve been against them! My old man was a huge Oxford fan, so it was never going to take him long to take me and my brother, too.

Greatest moment following Oxford: It has to be the Conference play-off final against York City. We won 3-1 at Wembley – I would hate to think where we would be now had we lost that day. After years of awful grounds and poor Oxford teams, it was an amazing day. Other memorable moments include Leeds away (an FA Cup game in ’92, where we won 3-2 after extra time) and of course, any win over Swindon!

We have reached the Area Final of the JPT – the competition is often ridiculed, but surely this is now the time to take it very seriously, with Wembley on the horizon?: Oh, very much so. I don’t think many Oxford fans have really cared about this competition, with the exception of playing Swindon, this season, but, then again, we don’t get to go to Wembley too many times! Given how we have played this season, we all want to win it. I would fancy either team to beat Barnsley or Fleetwood in the final. It’s also another chance to show the people watching on TV that Oxford are back!

Sunday’s win in the FA Cup over Swansea City must give Oxford confidence going into this game?: It’s not just that we won, but it’s the way we won. We outplayed them at times. This wasn’t a game on a awful pitch and 90 minutes of kicking Swansea – we played our way and took the game to them. One issue we have had this season is controlling teams, but not scoring. We looked very confident every time we went forward on Sunday. I have never know such optimism and belief at Oxford before.

What do you know about Millwall? Have you followed them much this season? Which players do you think your club need to look out for on Thursday night?: I live in South London and have a few Millwall supporting mates, so I always keep an eye out for results. I think you have been very inconsistent, but if you can sort that, then promotion should be in sight. Neil Harris seemed to be the man everyone wanted in charge and appears to have got the fans back on side after – lets be honest – an awful few seasons.

Steve Morison is someone well known to Oxford fans from his Stevenage days. Jed Wallace is a great signing – I think he will be a threat.

Likewise, who are Oxford’s ‘ones to watch’ on Thursday?: Everyone is talking about Kemar Roofe after his season so far. He has been brilliant and scored some top class goals. Because of his and Liam Sercombe’s exploits from midfield, people like John Lundstrum and George Baldock have gone under the radar. These two have been our best players and most consistent. For the first time in years, we have a very strong squad and some great young, local players coming through, too, like Callum o’Dowda, who is attracting attention from Premier League and Championship sides.

Finally – first legs are usually cagey affairs – how do you see this one going?: I honestly think both teams will go for the win – neither of us are any good at playing for draws! We have beaten Swansea, Brentford and Swindon this season, so this will be another great test for us. I can’t see the team changing too much from Sunday, except Taylor (who has had a few injuries) up front being rested. I am going for…

Score Prediction: Millwall 1-2 Oxford United, with goals from Roofe and Sercombe.

Kevin’s Team Prediction: Slocombe; Baldock, Wright, Mullins, Skarz; Macdonald, Lundstrum, Sercombe, Maguire; Roofe, Hoban.

Who will gain an advantage in this Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Final First Leg? Millwall v Oxford United takes place at The Den, in front of the Sky Sports cameras, on Thursday, January 14th. Kick-off is at 7:45pm.