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In opposition: Oxford United - ones to watch

28 April 2022

Karl Robinson’s side rank third in Sky Bet League One for goals scored this season, with 77 in total. Despite this, they have conceded the second-most amount of goals of teams in the top-half which indicates why they haven’t made it into the play-offs this season.

Matty Taylor is the club’s top scorer this season with 22 goals, with midfielder Cameron Brannagan supplying 14 from midfield. The defence is held together by the experienced Elliott Moore who has made 35 appearances in all competitions, with Sam Long also proving to be a key player for Robinson’s side.

Cameron Brannagan

After coming through the ranks at Liverpool, Brannagan made nine first-team appearances for the reds after initially making his debut in 2013.

A loan spell at Fleetwood gained him his first experience in the EFL. He made a permanent move to Oxford in January 2018 and has since established himself as one of the best midfielders in Sky Bet League One. In his first full season at the Kassam Stadium, the 25-year-old claimed the Players’ Player of the Year award, and now could make his 150th league start against Rovers this weekend.

Brannagan has scored a career best 14 goals so far this season, including four penalties in one game against Gillingham back in January. His partnership with Herbie Kane in midfield has been a big reason for the U’s securing an eighth placed finish this season.

James Henry 

After starting his career with hometown club Reading, Henry spent time on loan with Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth, Norwich and Millwall before a permanent move to The Den in 2010. 

He set up all four goals on his debut, a 4-0 win over Hull City, and went on to make almost 150 appearances for the club in helping them to establish themselves in the Sky Bet Championship, before joining Wolverhampton Wanderers in January 2014. 

Henry played a big part in Wolves’ promotion that same season, and once again had a key influence within the midfield. He signed for Oxford in 2017 and he has now made more than 200 appearances for the U’s. He has been pivotal in reaching the League One play-offs twice, with the 32-year-old approaching 100 league goals.

Herbie Kane

A familiar face to Rovers fans, Kane’s first taste of the EFL came via a loan spell at the Eco-Power Stadium from Liverpool in the 2018/19 season.

The Bristol-born midfielder scored seven goals in 49 appearances under Grant McCann and was a standout performer as Rovers reached the Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final. 

Kane’s next loan was with McCann after the Northern Irishman’s move to Hull City, but the 23-year-old couldn’t prevent the Tigers from being relegated that season. He signed for Barnsley on a permanent deal in the summer of 2020, but has found game time hard to come by at Oakwell.

The 23-year-old joined Karl Robinson’s side on loan, and he has once again impressed with 37 appearances in the third tier. He is still searching for his first Oxford goal.

Matty Taylor 

An Oxford-born striker, Taylor started his career with Forest Green Rovers in 2011, and impressed enough to earn a move to Bristol Rovers three years later.

His goalscoring exploits continued at the Memorial Ground, as he averaged a goal every other game in helping the GAS to back-to-back promotions from the National League to Sky Bet League One. He then crossed the Bristol divide by joining Bristol City in 2017, but struggled to cement a first-team spot with the Robins and joined Oxford initially on loan in 2019.

He scored 17 goals in his first season at the Kassam Stadium and the move was quickly made permanent at the end of that season. The 32-year-old is approaching 150 career league goals, with 51 of those coming in Oxford colours.

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