Kingstone Press League 1 Preview: Oxford v Hemel Stags

Oxford didn’t have a fixture last week which was useful according to coach Tim Rumford.

“It gave us the opportunity to freshen people up,” he said, “and we had a couple of injuries after the York game.

“We put one or two players into the Oxford Cavaliers, which is our reserve grade club who play in the Southern Conference.

“It was an opportunity to support them and gave me a chance to look at a few of the guys playing there.

“The Hemel game is a big challenge for us because we are among the same group as them who are hungry for points. We’re getting into a situation where everybody’s targeting each other in that area of the league.

“They will certainly be targeting Oxford for a win and we’ll be looking across at them thinking it’s an opportunity to compete against one of our peers in the development section of the league.

“That brings its own challenges – it’s a bit ‘dog eat dog’. That’s a situation we ultimately want to get out of but while we’re in it we need to embrace that challenge and meet it head on.”

There are injury concerns over half-back Andy Speake, who has a shoulder ligament problem, while hooker Nathan Kitson has a suspected fractured cheekbone.

Rumford is hopeful of making a couple of new signings this week.

Troy Perkins, the Hemel Stags coach, was very disappointed with the second half display by his side at Coventry last week.

”I thought we were okay in the first half and probably a little bit unfortunate to be down at half-time but the second half was defensively probably one of the worst halves I’ve seen,” he said.

Oxford beat us in the Challenge Cup so have got the wood on us already this season. They are a decent team who have got some good local players and have brought in three players on loan from Bradford, which should give them a bit more experience and strength in key areas.

“I watched them play against Coventry and they were in the game but probably didn’t take their opportunities. They’re a competitive team but it’s more about us needing to improve after last week.”

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