• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

Oxford United 5-0 Leyton Orient – Oxford Mail verdict

Byoxfordnewspaper

Sep 1, 2022

THE Papa John’s Trophy is not much more than a distraction at the best of times.

That is especially true in the final week of a transfer window, when the prospect of deadline-day deals is of far greater interest than the first round of an unpopular competition.

Throw in the presence of a Premier League legend in Oxford United training kit and the game falls further down the list of priorities.

If U’s fans had known Karl Robinson would name a strong starting XI against Leyton Orient a few more people may have come through the turnstiles.

RATINGS: Every Oxford United player marked out of 10 for Leyton Orient display

As it turned out, the 1,374 fans that attended the Southern Group G opener were treated to a confidence-boosting win.

United’s 11th-lowest competitive home attendance saw seven goals, five of them legal, and encouraging performances at both ends of the pitch.

Ed McGinty illustrated his potential with his best performance for the U’s, making three very good saves on the rare occasions Orient got a shot away.

Meanwhile, Matty Taylor provided the perfect response after being left out on Saturday as a late goal capped an impressive all-round display.

READ MORE: Matty Taylor hopes goal against Leyton Orient is the 'first of many'

It must be noted that the visitors made 11 changes, but it was encouraging to see the striker link well with Kyle Joseph and United score three times from set-pieces, among other positives.

Trophy group games are generally a chance to experiment, but the only makeshift aspect of Robinson’s line-up was seeing James Henry and Billy Bodin as wing backs.

That tells you everything you need to know about where the U’s need to do business in the final day and a half of the window.

Robinson spoke before the match about how the change of system to 3-5-2, resulting from United’s injury list, has changed the profile of his targets at full back.

Lazio’s Djavan Anderson seems to fit the bill on the right, although it now appears the U’s are unlikely to bring in the 27-year-old before the window shuts tomorrow night.

The choice of wing backs was not the only clue about where United sit in the transfer market.

READ MORE: Oxford United duo set for loan spell

It was surprising to see Jodi Jones and Oisin Smyth left out of the squad, until Robinson explained that it was with a view to both going out on loan.

We knew the Northern Irish youngster was expected to leave temporarily and perhaps we should not be shocked to see Jones lined up for a move away.

The former Coventry City winger has played very little football in the last few seasons and, even if he stays fit, will not rediscover his edge without getting first-team minutes.

We are expecting Smyth and Jones to leave in the next 34 hours, but the number of players the U’s bring in is anyone’s guess.

Whatever happens between now and tomorrow night, it looks increasingly likely that United’s summer window will go to the wire.