Oxford United are desperate to keep the strong start to the season going tonight as they attempt to break a losing streak against Southend United.
The U’s have lost all five meetings with the Shrimpers in the last two seasons, including three defeats last term.
The most recent game was in April, when a 2-0 away win for Southend virtually ended United’s hopes of reaching the npower League Two play-offs.
But hopes will be high among the majority of the expected 6,000-strong crowd at the Kassam Stadium that tonight will be different, with the teams arriving in contrasting form.
United followed up their penalty shoot-out Capital One Cup success against Bournemouth a week ago with a 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers on Saturday, while Southend have suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of Peterborough and Accrington Stanley.
Chris Wilder wants more of the same from his side.
The United manager said: “I think we’ve had a really good pre-season and then going into the competitive games and to get two positive results – albeit one through penalties – is really good against two strong sides.
“We want to keep this going. We don’t want to take a backward step, we want to make sure that first-day result gets doubled up at home.
“It’s going to be important we find a way at home to get results, because I think teams will come and frustrate.
“Certainly it will be a tight game and we’re desperate to keep it going.”
And Wilder insists tonight’s contest will not be about making amends for the defeats last season.
He said: “This is a new season with new optimism from everybody, so we can’t dwell on those three games.
“What I will say is it will be as tough a game as we’ll have at home all season, we’ll have to be patient and find a way through.
“They did a job on us last year and were very experienced and professional.
“Paul (Sturrock, Southend boss) has been a fantastic manager and he’s won promotions because he’s a clever guy in every aspect of the game.
“He’ll want to make sure first and foremost there’s not another loss at the start of their season, so they’ll do whatever they have to so they can get another result.”
With no new injury worries, the U’s are likely to name an unchanged squad from Saturday.
Southend’s main selection issue is in goal, where Sturrock could prefer Paul Smith ahead of the on-loan Cameron Belford, despite the new signing lacking match practice in pre-season.
Oxford Utd: from Clarke, Batt, Raynes, Wright, Capaldi, Cox, Chapman, Forster-Caskey, Potter, Constable, Rigg, Evans, McGinty, Smalley, Pittman, Craddock, Heslop, Brown.
Southend Utd: from Smith, Clohessy, Phillips, Barker, Prosser, Leonard, Ferdinand, Timlin, Hall, Tomlin, Assombalonga, Belford, Straker, Cresswell, Hurst, Spicer, Harris, Benyon.