Football League Two
Kassam Stadium, Oxford
Match Rating: 2
When I booked travel and match tickets for this game about a month ago, there was nothing particularly appealing about this fixture, save that it would tick off another of the '92', with few easy ticks left for me these days. However, seven games into the season and the game would be a top of the table clash between the only two unbeaten teams in the division.
The Kassam Stadium is situated about four miles south of Oxford City Centre, taking just over half an hour on the bus. It is quite an odd stadium, part of it fairly impressive by modern football criteria, the other half not. The outside of the main stand is very professional and modern looking which would not look out if place alongside stadia much higher up the football pyramid, yet around the rest of the ground are bland, graffitied walls with a chronic shortage of signage. Inside the stadium, there are three similar looking stands, two of them single tiered and the remaining one, the main stand, two tiered with a row of corporate boxes between the two. Views are excellent with nothing to obstruct one's view. Behind the remaining goal is just a wooden fence, and presumably a stand could easily be built there, with a car park behind the wall, should the club climb the pyramid and attract thousands more fans. Perhaps the one endearing quality of the stadium is the statue of an ox outside of the ground. The 84 page programme was excellent, packed full of interesting articles and an acceptable level of advertising.
This afternoon's match would see the leaders of the division play the second placed team. Chesterfield have had a fabulous start to their season, dropping just two points out of a possible 21, whilst Oxford have dropped just six from theirs, although they have drawn three of their last four games.
On a very overcast afternoon, the fans from both clubs certainly rose to the occasion, creating a good atmosphere and plenty of noise, with over a thousand fans in the away section. A pattern quickly developed of Chesterfield looking every bit the table topping side that they are, dominating possession, making penetrating attacks and playing some good flowing football. The home team certainly looked useful and threatened to create some goalscoring chances, but it was no surprise when Chesterfield took the lead on 29 minutes. Eoin Doyle crossed from the left and Ritchie Humphrey, who had passed the ball out to Doyle to set the move up, volleyed deftly past the keeper from 12 yards. That took the sting out of Oxford, as Chesterfield had several chances to extend their lead, but Oxford were very much still in the game at half time with just a one goal deficit to overturn.
Oxford had a good spell after half time, and with Chesterfield continuing to be a constant threat, the game became ever more intriguing, however when Trevor Kettle is refereeing a match, one knows that controversy will follow with his erratic, seeking the limelight style. After some increasingly baffling decisions, he couldn't get his red card out of his pocket quickly enough when Andy Whing slid in for a challenge which was at high speed but was not high or dangerous. Chesterfield were dominating possession before the red card, so unsurprisingly they continued to dominate but just couldn't kill the game off. They were nearly made to pay dearly for that when Deane Smalley saw his header hit a post and bounced clear. Chesterfield deserved their win though and certainly do look the team to beat this season, whilst Oxford's lofty league placing going into this game would seem, on the evidence of today, a little flattering.