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Raynes backs Oxford United to continue fine form
MIDWEEK hero Michael Raynes believes Oxford United could be peaking at the perfect time.
The in-form U’s bid to round off an excellent week with victory at home to fellow play-off outsiders Chesterfield today.
Wins against Torquay and Barnet have provided the perfect response to the 4-0 defeat to Rotherham last week.
The setback against the Millers is United’s only defeat in a seven-game spell which has yielded 16 points – their best haul for more than two years.
Raynes, who scored a 95th-minute winner against Barnet on Tuesday, thinks the key has been a new-found mentality among the players.
He said: “Fingers crossed we are hitting form at just the right time – we’re going to give it a hell of a go. “A lot of people have written us off so we’re playing with no fear. “We always believed that we could do it (get into play-off contention), even though a lot of people probably didn’t think we would be able to. “We just have to keep doing the right things because we know we have the quality and depth in our squad to cause teams problems.”
Despite their run, the U’s are still five points adrift of the top seven, so need another result this afternoon to keep the pressure on the sides above them.
The Kassam Stadium clash is arguably a bigger game for Chesterfield, who have a game in hand but are five points further back.
A defeat could spell the end of their already remote hopes and United assistant manager Mickey Lewis predicts both sides will attack.
He said: “They are another team who will be coming to win, which makes for a good game. “I should think they will have to win, there will be a lot of teams now, like ourselves, who will be saying we need to go on a good run. “We have started and hopefully that continues.”
Jon-Paul Pittman is available for the first time since dislocating a shoulder in December.
Tony Capaldi (back) and Lewis Montrose (hamstring) are out, while Wayne Brown will be the reserve goalkeeper with Max Crocombe on international duty with New Zealand Under 20s.
Chesterfield manager Paul Cook has already visited the Kassam this season, losing 5-0 when in charge of Accrington Stanley in October.
He could hand Tendayi Darikwa a first start in more than a month.
TODAY’S SQUADS Oxford Utd: from McCormick, Batt, Raynes, Wright, Davis, Parker, Whing, Davies, Rigg, Potter, Constable, Craddock, Smalley, Pittman, Heslop, Worley, Duberry, O’Brien, Brown.
Chesterfield: from Lee, Brindley, Trotman, Cooper, Smith, Togwell, Hird, Townsend, Gnanduillet, O’Shea, Lester, Darikwa, Richards, Whitaker, Barrington, Henshall, Randall, Clark, Talbot.