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Sebastian Morse - The Oxford United Story

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That's been a bit of a whirlwind!

All the best in your...er...endeavour.

*checks watch*

It's OK. I'll wait...

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That's been a bit of a whirlwind!

All the best in your...er...endeavour.

*checks watch*

It's OK. I'll wait...

It certainly has, all worth it in the end though I think. I've earned my stripes!

I can only imagine 'Pagan' Morse in charge of a football team, I think he'd be a cerebral manager with an eye for detail. He'd enjoy a post-match drink with the opposition manager, although it would be scotch as opposed to wine.

Suspiciously enough every journalist in Oxford seems to have a name inspired by an Oxford connection... strange.

After a couple of years in the Conference I've spent the last month at Oxford thinking we've got an outside chance at the play-offs if we can get into fifth. Then it hit me... the play-off spots in League 2 are 4 thru 7, not 2 thru 5! I've now upgraded our chances from 'outside' to 'possible.'

Glad to see you back at Oxford - they are one of my favourite teams and I was gutted when I discovered your thread and saw that you had been sacked the first time

Thanks, I'm pleased as well. The team has changed so much in the time I've been away so it's interesting to get to grips with things at the club. It's nice to finally be able to look at the bank balance and not see red, as well

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Jordan Graham has dropped down a bit if it's the one from Villa, which is rather disappointing hopefully you both get to the Premiership at the same time.

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He is the one from Villa and he's only here on loan, unfortunately. He joined Wolves for an undisclosed fee at the start of the save.

Never mind the Premiership, I'm just concentrating on getting us up to League 1!

Team talks are so bloody easy at the moment... 'We owe team x after what happened last time...'

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United Sign Rogne, Jakupovic

Oxford United today announced the addition of two new signings, both free transfers. Former Celtic defender Thomas Rogne joins the club on a two-year deal whilst Bosnian goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic has also joined the club, handed a one-year deal by manager Seb Morse.

Rogne was out of contract following a three-year spell at Wigan whilst Jakupovic was available after his Hull City contract expired earlier in the year.

Clive Magdalen for the Oxford Mail.

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Chelsea's Swift Joins U's On Loan

Oxford United manager Seb Morse has added to his midfield with the addition of Chelsea youth prospect John Swift. Swift recently had a spell on loan at United's rivals, Swindon Town.

Morse is believed to be keen to sign the young Englishman permanently when his contract is up in the summer, although he would have to take a fairly substantial pay cut.

Ronald Merton for The Oxford Times

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United Turnaround Proves Morse Right Choice

United's upturn in form since the arrival of Seb Morse has been nothing short of astonishing. From being in danger of slipping into the relegation zone under Megson the club has now shot up the table and finds itself fighting for a play-off spot.

We aren't counting our chickens yet here at Rage Towers but the early signs are very encouraging.

Robbie Hobson, Editor, Rage Online

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Oxford United Fixtures: February/March

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Oxford United V York City

Sky Bet League 2 - 28th March 2017

Kick-off: 7.45pm

York City are the visitors for this midweek League Two match. They have had a good season and find themselves in the play-off hunt, sitting 12th with three points separating them from Luton in 7th.

Manager's Notes

The team is looking forward to getting back on track tonight after disappointing results in our last two matches. Our opponents represent a very tough challenge and I'm sure the fans will be treated to an exciting match.

Despite our loss away to Plymouth we are very much in the race for the play-offs and hope to maintain our solid form as the season reaches its climax.

Seb Morse

Captain's Talk

The lads are hurting after the loss on the weekend and we're determined to put in a better performance against York.

They're are a tough team so we can't take anything for granted, but a win is vital if we want to keep ourselves chasing that seventh spot in the table.

I urge the fans to get behind the team and create the right atmosphere tonight.

Jake Wright

United Starting XI

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An injury to Matt Sadler has forced Morse to deploy right back Sinclair at left back, with Bevans replacing him on the opposite flank. Taylor partners Wright at the centre of defence. Rossiter and Gardner form the midfield pivot whilst the front three is Morse's preferred trio.

Injury Report

Thomas Rogne suffered a gashed leg in training and is out for a week or two.

A groin strain picked up in the Plymouth match will keep Matt Sadler out of action for up to three weeks.

Pip Yeates

Fan Mail

I have been pleased to note that United's attendances have steadily risen over recent weeks. At the end of the Megson reign things were looking glum but the upturn in form since the arrival of Seb Morse has sparked a resurgence.

I live in London and can't get up to the Kassam as much as I'd like to but I commend the regulars who go week in, week out.

Mike, 47, London

Tonight's Mascot

Tonight's mascot is Steven, 11, from Woodstock. Steven's favourite player is Jake Wright.

League Table

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Upcoming Fixtures

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Wright Injury Mars U's Win

28/3/17

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Oxford United captain Mark Wright will be out of action for a crucial chunk of the end of season run-in after breaking his wrist in the team's 2-0 win over York City.

The match was a cagey affair as neither side really asserted itself, though United had the better chances and made them count.

The U's went ahead in the 35th minute as Gary Gardner threaded Wayne Routledge through on goal with a cracking pass. Routledge then scored with a powerful effort struck from the edge of the box.

We added a second soon after as Sylvan Ebanks-Blake turned creator, finding Callum O'Dowda with a beautiful cross. O'Dowda was left one on one with the keeper and fired the ball through his legs.

The U's moved up to sixth in the table with the win.

Oxford Mail Man of The Match: Gary Gardner

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Ebanks-Blake Sidelined For Rest Of Season

Oxford United have suffered a blow as star striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was ruled out for the rest of the season following a torn calf muscle in his side's 2-0 loss to Barnet.

Ebanks-Blake, 31, is the club's second highest scorer in the league this season with 10 goals and his partnership with O'Dowda up front has been crucial to the U's recent revival.

United head physio Pip Yeates said the injury would keep Ebanks-Blake out for a minimum of four months.

Evelyn Greene for the Oxford Mail.

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Marvin Emnes Snubs Oxford United

Dutchman Marvin Emnes has turned down Sebastian Morse's offer of a trial with a view toward signing a permanent deal.

Morse was left searching for a replacement after Ebanks-Blake's torn calf muscle ruled him out for the rest of the season and had hoped to convince the former Middlesbrough and Swansea player to agree terms. Emnes, however, rejected his offer of a trial.

With the loan window shut it looks like Morse will have to look to Jonathan Quinn to step into the first team. Quinn has been a bit part player this season, scoring once in eight league appearances, but will now be given a chance to shine under his new boss.

Charles Lewis for The Oxford Times

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Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Jeff Stelling. I'm joined here in the studio by Matt Le Tissier, Phil Thompson, Charlie Nicholas and special guest analyst Sir Alex Ferguson.

We've got an action-packed day of football for you as the Championship, League 1 and League 2 will all wrap up today. First of all I'd like to say a big thank you to Sir Alex for joining us in the studio.

Not a problem, Jeff.

Now, let's take a look at all of the permutations up and down the leagues. In the Championship the title has already been decided with Derby winning it, the play-off spots have also all been sealed so all eyes will be on the other end of the table as Swindon, Portsmouth and Charlton are all fighting to avoid the drop.

Middlesbrough and Coventry are already down so two of the three will stay up. Swindon and Portsmouth sit on 47 points whilst Charlton have 48. Portsmouth are away to 18th-placed Bolton, Swindon are away to Cardiff who sit 15th and Charlton host Wigan who only narrowly avoided relegation this season and find themselves in 19th.

Matt, tell us about the state of play in League 1.

Well, Jeff, there's action at both ends of the table. Sheffield United have had a stellar season and wrapped up the league some time ago, they'll be looking to hit triple digits as they currently sit on 99 points.

Birmingham are on course for automatic promotion and know that whatever happens today they will at least get a play-off spot. They're at home to Peterborough, who are one of a number of teams in the hunt for a the play-offs. As things stand Preston, Peterborough, Notts County, Barnsley, Shrewsbury, Yeovil and Blackpool can all either make it through to the play-offs or fall short.

At the other end of the table it's a relegation scrap as Tranmere, Bury, Stevenage and Fleetwood are all fighting to finish 20th and stay up. Only one team will remain at the end of the day, there will be some heartbroken fans come the end of it. The most pivotal match will probably be Tranmere against Bury.

Thanks, Matt. And now, Charlie, could you guide us through League 2?

Certainly. The title went to Walsall a couple of weeks ago, Crewe and Scunthorpe are up automatically whilst Exeter and Accrington are assured a play-off spot. Port Vale and Torquay are gone so all eyes are on the hunt for the two play-off spots left. Hartlepool sit 9th and need a few teams to slip up if they're to have any hope. Oxford United sit 8th with 67 points, Burton sit 7th on 68 and Plymouth sit 6th with 69.

Plymouth are away to 18th-placed Barnet and should record a victory. Burton have a trickier task at home against Gillingham, who are 11th, and Oxford need to get a win away at Colchester who are in 16th. Four into two just doesn't go, Jeff, we'll see how it pans out as the day develops.

Thanks for that, gentlemen. We're all set for a tremendous day across the Football League as teams fight to stay up and go up. At 3.pm the action gets under way.

Phil, let's take a minute to have a look at Derby County. What do you think of the job that Steve Davis has done at the club and how do you think they'll get on in the Premier League next season?

Well, the club has been slowly building over the last few years and narrowly missed out in the play-off final back in 2015. I think Davis has really taken the team to another level after Steve McLaren's departure. Will Hughes in particular is a player that I admire, I can't wait to see him in the Premiership.

Thanks for that. Matt, Sheffield United have had a fantastic season and look set to hit triple figures in the points tally. They won't beat the mark set by Hull a few years ago but they've done remarkably well to win the league by 20 points under Graham Alexander, haven't they?

Definitely, Jeff. It will be great to see another Sheffield club in the Championship next year. The derby will be feisty.

We've got Chris Kamara coming in from Colchester, he'll be watching Oxford United try to seal their place in the play-offs. Are you there, Chris?

Can you hear me, Jeff?

Yes, Chris, I can hear you.

The atmosphere here is building up with kick-off not too far away. Oxford come into this match on a bad run of form but they've done tremendously under Seb Morse considering they were down in 18th when he arrived. It would be disappointing to see them miss out on the play-offs, the travelling Oxford fans will all be keeping a close eye on their phones for the Plymouth and Burton scores.

Thank you, Chris. We've got Bianca Westwood coming in now, she's at The Hive as Plymouth look to wrap up their place in the play-offs.

Hi, Jeff. A sizeable contingent of Plymouth fans have travelled to Barnet for the match today. Paul Ince's side have won their last five games and a draw should be enough to confirm a spot in the play-offs. Back to you, Jeff.

Thanks, Bianca. Sir Alex, welcome in to the studio. Give us your insight into what's happening north of the border.

Cheers, Jeff, it's great to be here. There are still a few match days left to go after today but the title race is very tight. Rangers are sitting at the top of the table on 54 points, two ahead of Celtic in second on 52. Partick Thistle, Motherwell and Dundee United are all still mathematically in with a chance of winning the title as well, it's the craziest end to a season in Scottish football that I can remember. All eyes will be on next week's Old Firm Derby, if it ends in a draw Partick Thistle could go top.

Who do you think will win the title?

It's hard to predict, naturally you want to say one of Rangers and Celtic but football's a funny old game and you never know what might happen.

Matt, you'll be watching the big Premier League game, what do you think is going to happen in today's top-bottom clash between Arsenal and Everton at Goodison Park?

Well, Jeff, Arsenal are of course fighting for the title and need a win to stay ahead of Chelsea. Everton are desperately trying to claw their way out of the relegation zone and Nigel Adkins will be hoping for an upset. I'm going to sit on the fence and say 2-2.

It isn't like you to sit on the fence, Matt! I'm now joined by Iain Dowie, he's at the Reebok Stadium.

Afternoon, Jeff. Portsmouth are out to avoid the drop today and need a result against Bolton. The club has struggled this year under Gareth Ainsworth after Andy Awford left for the Brentford job. Back-to-back titles gave the club the shot in the arm it needed but the fans are desperate not to start heading in the other direction.

It will certainly be fascinating to see if Pompey can escape danger. Thanks, Iain. Paul Walsh joins me from Gigg Lane, he's all set to watch the relegation scrap between Bury and Tranmere. What's the atmosphere like, Paul?

There's a nervous energy around the ground at the moment. Fans know that only one team can stay up, but both could potentially go down. We'll have to wait and see which side wants it more.

Well, that about wraps up the previews. We're all set for kick-off in just under five minutes. Phil, what game will you be watching?

I'll be keeping an eye on Spurs Liverpool at White Hart Lane. Liverpool need a win to keep pace with Man City in the race for fourth and it will be interesting to see how Rodgers approaches a game against a very strong Spurs side.

And you, Sir Alex?

Partick Thistle at home to Celtic, the match will have a huge impact on the title race.

The clock has just ticked over to 3.PM. Strap yourselves in, we're expecting drama.

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You will win but it won't be enough for a Play Off place. Up automatically next term though. :thup:

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3.06pm

No, no, no, ohhhh, that's a goal!

What's happening in the Spurs Liverpool game, Phil?

Spurs have just scored, Jeff, Only six minutes into the match and they're ahead. It was sloppy defending from the reds, the Spurs winger Carasco went on a darting run down the left flank, he left Glen Johnson for dead before beating Simon Mingolet one-on-one. Spurs are roaring out of the traps here, Jeff, Liverpool look shocked.

I think we've got something coming in from Hartlepool United Port Vale, Tony Cottee is on the phone from Victoria Park. Please be the bearer of good news, Tony.

Jeff, Hartlepool's Brennan Dickerson has scored early to put...

Yasssssss! Get in Dicko!

3.21pm

We cross to Bianca at The Hive for an update on the Barnet Plymouth match in League 2. What's going on, Bianca?

Barnet have taken an early lea...

Yesssss! Yes yes yes! Sorry, Bianca, please continue

Luke Hoey managed to score after heading home a corner, Plymouth looked out of sorts and didn't mark well at all. Back to you, Jeff.

Thanks, Bianca. It looks like Paul Ince's men might be looking to throw their play-off spot away on the final day. As things stand they'll still get it but If Oxford score things could get interesting. The mighty Hartlepool look seat to upset the apple cart, they currently sit in 7th and have overtaken Burton who are losing against Gillingham.

There's been a goal in the relegation showdown between Bury and Tranmere, let's cross to Paul Walsh. Paul, what's happening at Gigg Lane?

Tranmere have gone ahead in the 16th minute, Byron Moore scored an absolute thunderbolt from quite a way out to put the visitors ahead.

Tranmere with an early statement there, thanks Phil. We've got more news coming in, this time it's Iain Dowie at the Reebok. How are Pompey getting on, Iain?

They're looking lost out there at the moment, Jeff. Bolton's Liam Trotter has just scored, they've started the match poorly and it looks like the nerves have gotten to them. Neil Lennon's side are cruising so far.

Uncomfortable viewing then for the travelling Portsmouth fans, Thanks, Iain.

3.29pm

We've got an update from Bianca, have Plymouth managed to get a goal back?

No, Jeff, the opposite. Barnet have just taken the lead, it's 2-0 here. Stephen Dobbie with a nice goal, he beat the offside trap and was through on goal with only the keeper to beat.

Well, it looks like Plymouth are...

Ohhh, that had tae hurt.

Has something happened in the Partick Thistle Celtic game, Sir Alex?

Aye, Jeff, Partick's David Ferguson has just had a bad knock, I think the boy might have dislocated his shoulder. He went up high for a ball in the air and came crashing down hard. I hope he's going to be okay, that's his day over.

Let's cross to Chris Kamara at the Colchester Oxford United match, how are things looking for Seb Morse's side?

They're doing really well, Jeff, they're dominating the match and have nearly scored a couple of times. They're up for a corner now, let me just... ohhhhh, that nearly went in Jeff! That nearly went in! United centre half Renmast... Renmeis... sorry, Rentmeister, he nearly headed home a goal but the ball cannoned off the crossbar. It's dramatic here Jeff, Oxford are playing like a herd of stampeding tigers.

Thanks, Chris, it sounds like it's only a matter of time before Oxford get ahead. An update from Scotland now, Rangers are cruising against Motherwell and are already 3-0 up. If the score stays the same in the Partick Thistle Celtic match Rangers will get a big leg up in their hunt for the league title, they haven't won the Scottish Premiership since 2011, just before they went bust.

3.33pm

There's been a goal at Gigg Lane in the Bury Tranmere game, let's get over to Paul Walsh.

Bury have pulled level here, Jeff. Some fancy footwork on the edge of the box saw Hallam Hope beat two defenders before calmly firing the ball into the top right corner.

A vital goal there for Bury but they'll need to get another if they want to stay...

Wow, what a nutmeg from Walcott on Gibson! He's going right, he's going, he's going, he's cutting in, It's on for Walcott here Jeff, he's bearing down on goa... ooooh, what a goal!

It's all kicking off at Goodison, Matt!

It certainly is, Jeff. What a goal from Walcott, his pace played a part as he got past Baines but he embarrassed Darron Gibson with a fantastic bit of skill. Darron won't want to be seeing a replay of that any time soon, he got absolutely mugged. Arsenal are 1-0 up.

3.42pm

Let's go to Chris Kamara in Colchester, the score is still 0-0. What's been happening, Chris?

Oxford are starting to struggle, Jeff, the last ten minutes have been all Colchester. Thomas Rogne just come up with a last-ditch tackle to stop a Colchester player on the edge of the box.

Good news for Plymouth fans, then. Despite being behind at Barnet as things stand they'll still finish ahead of Oxford. We're getting close to hal...

Oh, what a strike. A really good goal here, Jeff, Partick have just gone ahead against Celtic. The boy Novakovic scored a cracker from a good twenty yards out.

3.47pm

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for an ad break as teams up and down the country head in for half time. We'll be back to discuss the big talking points and get ready for the second halves to get under way.

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4.02pm

...and that, Jeff, is why I believe Jurgen Klopp shouldn't be sacked at Man United.

Thank you for your thoughts, Sir Alex. Now then, we're all set for action as the teams resume play.

4.16pm

It's a red card, it's a red card!

What's happening at White Hart Lane, Phil?

Saphir Taider just got his marching orders after he clattered Coutinho. It looked a horrible tackle Jeff, really nasty. Spurs are down to ten men.

Interesting developments. Now let's cross over to Chris Kamara in Colchester, what's happening Chris?

...

Chris?... Chris...

Sorry Jeff, I was just watching the Oxford captain make a superb tackle deep in his own half. Oxford have started the second half well and... hold on Jeff, Oxford might have a chance here. Graham is going down the... Graham beats his man... Graham... Graham... oh and he's been tackled in the box! I thought Oxford had a real chance there Jeff.

Can you describe the move to us?

Well Jeff, Graham picked up the ball around the halfway mark before... hang on Jeff, I think Oxford have been given a penalty here. Have they? Yes, Jeff, it's a penalty!

*laughter in studio*

Come on Chris, how could you miss that?

I don't know Jeff, I was busy talking to you. It's definitely been given though, it looks like Graham is going to step up and take it.

If Oxford score here they're up into the playoff spots, I wonder if Morse told his players of the situation at half time or just let them concentrate on winning the match?

I don't know Jeff, I wasn't there, but he's standing on the edge of the technical area now. Imagine the nerves he must be feeling. Graham steps up... it's in! It's in Jeff! Oxford go ahead!

Celtic have scored here, Jeff.

What happened?

Armstrong made a solid run from deep with the ball, he laid it off to Brown and then continued advancing. Brown held the play up, spotted Armstrong ahead of him and found him with a killer through ball. It was an easy finish but the move itself was lovely, the boy's done well.

4.28pm

There's been another goal in Colchester, fill us in Chris.

It was Quinn for Oxford a couple of minutes ago. Oxford had a throw-in deep in the Colchester half, the ball ended up with centre mid Gardner. He dribbled up to the edge of the box and then stopped, turning to pass the ball back to Quinn who was lurking on the edge of the area. Quinn took a touch and then boom, the ball thundered home into the top left corner. A great goal Jeff, pop bang lovely.

4.35pm

Celtic are looking dangerous here, Brown has the ball and... ooh, he shot but hit the ba... the rebound falls to Armstrong... and it's a goal. The boy hit it on the volley Jeff, Celtic are 2-1 up.

There's been another goal at the Reebok. Have Portsmouth managed to rally, Iain?

They haven't Jeff, no. Bolton went 2-0 up from the penalty spot a little while ago. The Portsmouth fans might as well have stayed home today, there's been no fight from the team.

We've got Bianca at Burton now, are Plymouth looking likely to make a comeback?

No, Jeff, they look dead and buried out there. Ince is on the sidelines with his hands in his pockets, he doesn't seem to know what's gone wrong for his team tod...

It's a penalty! It's a penalty Jeff! Sturridge has won a penalty for Liverpool but it looks as if he may have dived.

Sorry Bianca, something has just happened at White Hart Lane. Fill us in, Phil.

Sturridge darted into the box from the left, Fazio was in his path and he decided to try his luck. There was a slight bit of contact but not enough to bring him down. It will be Sturridge to take the penalty... yep, he's scored. Liverpool equalise.

Potential controversy in the fight for the Champions League spots, then.

Indeed, Jeff, I can't help feeling sorry for the Spurs fans.

4.41pm

...and in League 1 Fleetwood are going down on goal difference unless they can conjure up a miracle, they're losing 2-0 at Oldh...

Danny Welbeck is through on goal here! He's only got the keeper to beat... oh, how did Howard mange that? Tim Howard with a fingertip save to prevent Welbeck from making it 2-0! Arsenal are dominant here Jeff, they're pushing up for the corner. Walcott to take it... the ball is in the air... Welbeck! Goal! Welbeck with a fantastic header, it's all over at Goodison.

It looks like Everton are doomed to relegation, Matt. They don't have many games left to turn things around.

4.49pm

Liverpool are on the attack here, Sturridge is through on goal and... yes, he's done it! Goaaaal! Daniel Sturridge nets what will surely be the winner with so little time remaining.

4.53pm

We've got Tony on the line at Hartlepool. Come on Tony, make me the happiest man in the studio.

Well Jeff, the final whistle has gone and Hartlepool run out 2-0 winne...

Yeeeeeeeesssss! Yes Yes Yes! Come on you Pools! What a fantastic result. Next stop, Wembley! Come on!

Don't get too far ahead of yourself Jeff, there's still a semi-final to get through.

4.56pm

It's full time here Jeff, Barnet 2 Plymouth 0.

Thanks Bianca. What's happening in Colchester, Chris?

The match is winding down Jeff, Oxford have spent the last ten minutes sitting back and controlling possession. They're passing the ball around in midfield and... yes Jeff, there's the final whistle. United have beaten Colchester by 2 goals to 0. Incredible scenes in the Oxford end as the travelling fans celebrate like mad, it's like a sea of yellow. Or a desert. Back to you Jeff.

5.15pm

In the Premier League Arsenal get an important win as they chase their first Premier League title since 2004. Everton suffer another blow as they look more certain to drop into the Championship, whilst Liverpool get crucial points from Spurs in the race for the Champions League.

In the Championship it's misery for Portsmouth as the club is relegated. Despite their loss Charlton manage to stay up by just a single point. In League 1 Birmingham have sealed automatic promotion, Shrewsbury, Blackpool, Yeovil and Barnsley will contest the play-offs. At the other end of the table Tranmere, Fleetwood and Bury are all gone as Stevenage stay up on goal difference.

Down in League 2 the two teams occupying 6th and 7th at the start of the day now sit 8th and 9th, incredible scenes as the mighty Hartlepool and a resurgent Oxford United make it into the play-offs on the final day of the season.

In Scotland the gap at the top remains 2 points, Partick Thistle aren't out of the race but will need to rebound from their loss to Celtic as the season has just three games to go. From all the team here at Soccer Saturday I wish you a good evening. We'll leave you with Alan Lambourn reading the classified results

Blackburn Rovers, two, Queens Park Rangers, nill. Chelsea, three, Burnley, two. Fulham, nill, Reading...

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United Cap Superb Turnaround With Playoff Spot

Oxford United have a shot at promotion after finishing 6th on the final day of the League 2 season. The club went into their match away to Colchester following a poor run of three consecutive 1-1 draws and it looked as if the hopes of the fans would be dashed at the last minute.

The football gods had something else in store, though, as Plymouth and Burton both lost and relinquished 6th and 7th in the table. Hartlepool went from 9th at the start of the day to 7th whilst United went moved up from 8th to 6th.

United will now play a two-legged semi-final against Accrington Stanley with the first leg at home scheduled for this coming Friday. Tickets go on sale at mid-day tomorrow, the club expecting its biggest crowd at the Kassam Stadium in years.

Evelyn Greene for the Oxford Mail.

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Thrills And Spills As U's March On To Play-Off Semi, Next Stop Wembley

Here at Rage On towers we are absolutely gob smacked by the overturn in form engineered by Sebastian Morse since his arrival at the club back in February.

The team is playing with confidence and whatever happens now U's fans can be justly proud of the effort put in at the tail end of the season. Imagine where we'd be right now if the board had stuck with Megson, it doesn't bear thinking about.

We've gone from staring down the barrel of relegation to being two matches away from a spot at Wembley, Morse deserves all of the praise being lavished upon him by the local media.

Our win was even mentioned on the Guardian's Football Weekly podcast, James Richardson commenting that the club would probably already be in League 2 if Morse hadn't of been sacked back in 2014. No matter, it's all in the past. All that matters now is the future, hopefully a bright one.

Credit to Sky Sports for sending Chris Kamara to the game, I was unable to get a ticket for the Oxford end and didn't fancy pretending to be a Colchester fan so I had to watch Soccer Saturday at home. The moment when Jordan Graham struck home that penalty was something special, someone uploaded the footage of Kamara on the internet and I urge U's fans to download it for posterity. Both of the Accrington matches will be televised so anyone unable to get a ticket for the Kassam will at least be able to see the game live.

Accrington Stanley, who are they? Bring 'em on!

Robbie Hobson, Editor, Rage On + Rage Online

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Oxford United Fixtures: March/April

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We went on to beat Accrington in the play-off semi, it was then Exeter at Wembley for a place in League 1. From Sunday league and no coaching badges, a sacking at Oxford, promotion with Bromley and a short spell at Grimsby to Wembley in front of over 50,000. It’d been an eventful few years in the fledgling career of my manager.

A cagey affair ended 0-0 and it went down to penalties. 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5… then they miss. Oxford-born one-club man (okay he’s only early 20’s but I’m claiming it) Callum O’Dowda is a penalty away from sending us up. He fires wide. They score. Gary Gardner needs to score to keep us in it. He hits the crossbar. Heartbreak.

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Second season turned out to be pretty disastrous, board came down on me hard as my form wasn’t impressive. I tried to implement a new formation to suit my new AMC acquisition McGlinchey but the squad huffed and puffed after a few bad results. Morale tanked, I had a row with my volatile Bosnian journeyman keeper and the board gave me an ultimatum to improve squad harmony. De ja ****ing vu, I had been sacked a few months into my first spell at Oxford at the start of the game due to squad harmony. I reverted to my asymmetric 4-3-3 that had fired us into the playoffs the season before. Jack Barmby rescued my arse from the fire, I’d got him and Grant Holt in on free deals to replace Ebanks-Blake up front. He tore it up in a few matches and scored some important goals as we went on a run of 5 wins in a row including a JPT victory against League 1 Portsmouth. We went on to beat Franchise MK, another League 1 side, 3-0 to reach the JPT south final. Two wins away from a Wembley cup final.

Things then went south again, form dipped and the board eventually summoned me to answer after a poor result. I blamed the players, they accepted my reasoning but after a run of three loss in a row, the last to Paul Ince’s Plymouth, they issued me with another ultimatum. 10 points in five games. I got them to lower it to 8.

We got a 0-0 draw against Cambridge and then hammered Barnet 5-2. We need a draw and a win from three games. Next up it’s Tranmere who are a point off the top of the table in 2nd. I wrote the match off. The board, however, decided it was time to prepare the ground for my exit by announcing that a bad result against Tranmere could see me sacked. I was livid, they set me a target to beat and I was confident of doing so, they were now threatening to sack me if things didn’t work out against one of the best sides in the league.

We managed to draw, 1-1, and now needed a win from two to meet the ultimatum. I was still seething over the board’s behaviour, though, and in a moment of madness I decided to apply for the vacant Sheffield United job in the Championship when a news item popped up in my inbox straight after the Tranmere game announcing Graham Alexander’s departure to take over Derby. Bollocks, what had I done. I knew full well I didn’t have much hope of getting the role at Bramall Lane but was pleasantly surprised to see a news item saying that I was considered to have an outside chance. A couple of years ago I had been laughed off when applying for jobs at clubs in the relegation zone in League 2. Clearly my managerial stock in the world had risen, I was chuffed. I didn’t get the interview, of course.

A day later the board gave me an ultimatum. Issue a grovelling apology and hope that we don’t sack you or resign with your reputation intact… in case we sack you. An easy decision to make given that my job security was about as stable as the Greek economy, getting sacked for a second time at Oxford simply wasn’t an option. I resigned.

What next? Well, if a club as big as Sheffield United aren’t having a fit of laughter when my CV arrives at their boardroom it’s clearly time to set my sights a little higher than League Two. In League One the Preston North End job is available, the club finished last season in eighth and only narrowly missed out on the play-off spots. I had one of my favourite ever FM saves with Preston on FM13, leading the club to back-to-back promotions (the only time I’ve ever achieved the feat) and slowly building them into a European force, eventually winning several Premiership titles, a few European Cups and seeing the club build the impressive ‘McKee Park,’ which after expansion turned into a 70,000+ seater behemoth that was truly the grandest stage in the country north of Manchester. Argentine Augustin Barale, a modern-day Batistuta snapped up for a mere five million pounds from River Plate, regularly hit over 40 goals a season and was one of my favourite FM regens of all time. (*of all time…*)

There’s that, or I could pass up the opportunity and gamble on the Portsmouth job becoming available. The club sacked the manager that oversaw their relegation from the Championship and Colin Lee’s position is very insecure. They’re just shy of the play-off places and if I managed to get the job I should be able to lead them up into the championship (it’s mid January atm). They have half a star more reputation than Preston, though, and I’m not sure if my regional rep and National B license will be enough to get me the job. Do I risk missing out on a chance to relive an old favourite for the sake of an easy path to the Championship with Pompey? What would you do, in my shoes?

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Gutted that the Oxford gig went tits up again, but hopefully you find something soon.

I think you should just wait and try and be picky so that your next job is somewhere you want to go.

Or try and get the Swindon job and bring them up through the leagues to show the Oxford board what they've missed

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Sorry to see that things went to south at Oxford again.

Hard to say what you should do, maybe try outside England for a short while?

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Gutted that the Oxford gig went tits up again, but hopefully you find something soon.

I think you should just wait and try and be picky so that your next job is somewhere you want to go.

Or try and get the Swindon job and bring them up through the leagues to show the Oxford board what they've missed

I've no desire to take charge of Swindon, I haven't really been picky as I don't think my manager is at a career stage to turn an offer like Preston North End down.

If I ever did go down the 'show Oxford United what they're missing' route then I'd go to Oxford City.

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Sorry to see that things went to south at Oxford again.

Hard to say what you should do, maybe try outside England for a short while?

I'm not sorry, I'm enjoying the save immensely!

I have 'adaptability 1' and am not sure how it will impact my chances of landing a good job overseas. That said I do have the second divisions loaded in Germany, Italy and Spain so the option is always there but probably won't be something I'll look to explore until well into the future.

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bN9Gcvm.jpg

nXMkjQV.png

Right, accepted an offer of a two-year contract to take over at Preston North End. It's time to make the step up to League 1!

Here's the situation the club finds itself in after my four matches in charge, a 4-1 loss in the FA Cup 4th Round away to Burnley, a 5-2 loss away to Wycombe, a 0-0 draw at home against Chesterfield and a 3-2 win in a snowy match away at Scunthorpe.

vQ3AyOP.png

It's time for a good old-fashioned relegation dogfight!

This is the system I've developed over the four years of the save, It sprang into life at Bromley and has undergone various changes but it's generally been what has worked well for me. Whenever I've deviated my teams have tended to start playing badly.

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It's a fairly basic tactic, the team plays high tempo, direct and generally sticks to a structure.

I'm thinking of trying something different at Preston, new club, new start. After looking over my new players I think they're capable of a more flexible possession based tactic that gives the creative types more freedom and is geared around patient build up and short passing. Control as the default strategy. I'm also going to start using a more limited back four.

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edit: So, this is what I've come up with. My back four are all on the most basic roles possible apart from my left back who will help out in central midfield as an inverted wingback. Another body in the centre of the park when we're going forward, another passing option. I've got a DM and a basic CM as my central pivot. A wide playmaker sits on the left and will be a big part of our attacking play. On the right flank the 'space investigator' does whatever the hell he wants and I live the results. My most advanced striker has a support role and will look to bring the SS, my main central scoring threat, into play.

I'm using a sweeper keeper set to attack, when I arrived at the club we had two mediocre keepers so I hit the market and bought Brentford's Jake Keen. Looks decent enough, I only had to part with three thousand pounds for him!

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Watch this space, it could all go spectacularly wrong and I could end up on the scrapheap yet again or we can turn our form around and save ourselves from the drop. Fingers crossed, I want to stay at PNE for a long time yet.

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Right, I've decided to kill this thread. I enjoyed creating a fictional little Oxford media bubble but since my time at United is over I'm wanting to go in a different direction.

Why, you ask? Well, I'm starting to get insanely attached to this save. It's the one. I generally have to go through two or three saves when I get a new copy of FM to find 'the one', this year it was a ten season Valencia save that was brilliant but got too easy and progressed too quickly for my liking, and my other thread here where I went all journeyman and flirted with the grand idea of completing the pentagon. Lost interest, sadly.

This save, though, is it.

If you're interested in how Seb is going to get on at Preston, and beyond, have a gander at the stories forum...

Here, I'll even give you directions....

Eugh, plugging, I feel dirty.

Due to the complex scientific laws governing the realm of Seb Morse's world and things like the space-time continuum (think Gary Sparrow in Goodnight Sweetheart) I can no longer update you on the progress of the save here. Or anywhere outside of the stories section of the site. Spoilers are bad, m'kay...

It's completely different to my brief flirtation with story elements here, although the Soccer Saturday gives a hint at what I have in mind. A living, breathing football universe that will see Morse either rise to the top or have a series of hilarious misadventures. That tactic up above may well be one. Oh yeah, and Jurgen Klopp is a recurring character.

If you like football podcasts and want to imagine listening to a World Cup Ramble detailing England's quest to build on their Euro 2016 triumph in Russia, a Football Weekly with James Richardson, Barry Glendenning and Raph Honigstein describing the end of the 2022 Premier League season or a World Football Phone-in with Tim Vickery casting his eye over all of the latest South American starlets emerging at the 2028 Olympics then it might be worth keeping an eye on. Be warned, some pods will be long Some will be short, though, the story only gets insanely in-depth when something that I deem interesting is happening. Due to the fact that I'm playing a game of football manager, this will invariably be when I'm either doing well or cocking up spectacularly.

I'm still going to be active on this forum and will keep track of the threads that interest me, so I'm not disappearing on you. It's just Seb Morse. He bids you adieu.

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