We must improve this time, says Oxford United defender

Herald Series: Michael Raynes in action for the U's Michael Raynes in action for the U's

MICHAEL Raynes says Oxford United are well aware they will need to improve significantly on the first meeting with Gateshead to avoid being knocked out tonight.

It is 26 days since the sides met at the Kassam Stadium, when the visitors from the Skrill Premier took a 2-0 lead.

Late goals from Deane Smalley and Danny Rose kept the U’s alive in the first round.

Raynes admitted Gateshead’s quality in the game had come as a surprise and after one non-league side knocked out a Sky Bet League Two club on Tuesday night, the defender is not taking the Heed lightly.

He said: “They were one of the best sides we have faced this year.

“We didn’t really turn up that day, so we know we need to step it up.”

“We’ve seen Bury losing at Cambridge on Tuesday night and it’s one of those things where on their day anybody can beat anybody. “I’ve been around too long to think that these are easy games.

“If you look at their squad, they have probably got more senior pros than we will have because we’re down to the bare bones.

“It’s a good chance for the younger boys, and us older pros need to make sure everything is steady.”

United will be forced into one change from Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Fleetwood, with Asa Hall ineligible as part of his loan from Shrewsbury.

Scott Davies is likely to come into midfield instead, while United’s injury problems have been eased fractionally with Smalley recovering from a groin strain.

The striker is expected to be named on the bench. It is the second time in a fortnight the U’s have made the long trip to Tyneside, after the original replay was washed out.

BT Sport are still covering the game live, so both sides will receive the £33,750 broadcast fee. There is plenty more at stake, with the winners netting £18,000 in prize money and a further £72,000 because the second-round tie at Wrexham next Monday will also be televised.

The weather could again put a spanner in the works, with the forecast for the area today including sleet, gales and freezing temperatures.

Frost covers were brought up from Northampton yesterday and were due to be used last night in an effort to avoid another postponement.

Oxford Utd: from Clarke, Hunt, Raynes, Mullins, Newey, Williams, Davies, Rose, Ruffels, Kitson, Constable, Smalley, Marsh, O’Dowda, Bevans, Long, Lynn, Crocombe. Gateshead: from Bartlett, Baxter, Sirrell, Chandler, Curtis, Clark, Larkin, Turnbull, Walker, Oster, Marwood, Maddison, Magnay, Tait, Brown, Ramshaw, Hatch.

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