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Oxford United look to steady the ship
CHRIS Wilder wants Oxford United to go back to basics tomorrow as they attempt to turn a dismal run of form around.
Only rock bottom Barnet are below the U’s in the npower League Two form table after picking up just four points from their last nine games.
After a win against AFC Wimbledon and a draw with leaders Gillingham it had looked like United had stopped the rot, but a 3-0 defeat at Port Vale on Monday sent them back to square one.
In response to the worrying performance at Vale Park, Wilder first and foremost wants a solid, uncomplicated performance when Accrington Stanley visit the Kassam Stadium.
He said: “We’ve got to have men who do the basics at the right time, being hard to beat and positive.
“Those are the two things we’ve talked about all week – we have to play forward and then when we lose possession we’ve got to get it back as soon as possible. We need to show a reaction in both parts of the game.
“Don’t take chances, give nothing away, don’t be soft in defence and let the lads at the top of the pitch be positive and go for it. We did that against Cheltenham (a 4-2 win) and Gillingham.
“First of all we have to win physical battles all over the pitch, we have to show that physicality to our game, which we did not do on Monday.
“If you do that and the ball breaks we have enough ability to go and try to get after teams.”
The approach will have an influence on the home side’s selection.
Wilder described the Vale defeat as being like men against boys, so he will look to avoid a repeat by fielding as senior a side as possible.
He said: “I’m looking to go with my experienced players, my senior players that are available and the ones I can trust to put in a steady performance.
“I need to look to see who I can give me a consistent performance on the day, who can stick to their jobs.
“Andy Whing comes right into the equation and I’m going to have to chuck him in.
“It is obviously a risk, but the boy’s sticking his hand up to play.”
The last home game saw United hold Gillingham to a goalless draw a fortnight ago.
It was a rare clean sheet for a side which has conceded an average of two goals per game this season – the third worst in the division.
Wilder does not believe the U’s can climb the table without improvements being made defensively.
He said: “You’ve got to give yourself a platform to go and get a result.
“Of course changes don’t help, but we need to defend better.
“The first two goals (against Port Vale) were really poor from our point of view because they were two straight balls. “At the moment one goal goes in and we seem to drop our heads – that can’t happen.
“Hopefully with a few of the senior players coming back they’ll bring that influence into the team.
“Maybe that’s what I’ve got to do going into Saturday’s game in terms of the age and the games they’ve played in their careers.
“We need to be better defensively and that would give us a platform to go forward with confidence.”