We cast our eyes elsewhere to monitor the progress of some of our players who are out plying their trades on loan…
And the first mention goes to Sam Smith, who netted his second Oxford United goal in a Checkatrade Trophy win against Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday evening. The striker, who often lined up in the home dressing room at Adams Park as a Royals Under-23 player, netted the U’s final goal in a 3-0 away rout in Buckinghamshire. A draw would have been enough for the Chairboys to qualify for the knock-out stages, but their defeat means that Smith’s side progress through the group on goal difference!
There is more cup action to follow this weekend for Smith and his teammates at Oxford. Forest Green Rovers make the trip over to the Kassam Stadium from Gloucestershire in the First Round of this season’s FA Cup.
Overseas, Axel Andresson has been a staple in the defence of Viking Stavanger – and could be crowned champions this weekend! The Norwegian outfit were relegated last season after 29 campaigns in the top tier, but could go up on Sunday at the first time of asking.
Viking have won six of their eight fixtures since our Academy graduate joined… and he grabbed an 89th-minute winner in his second appearance against Notodden! A win on Sunday at home against Kongsvinger takes them up as champions – anything other than victory could see them miss out on automatic promotion, such is the concertinaed race for the title. All to play for this weekend!
Meanwhile Gabriel Osho's loan with Aldershot Town – initially scheduled to run until 4th November – has been extended until the New Year. After being named as man of the match on his debut in a win at Eastleigh, he has followed up with clean-sheet wins against Braintree and Kettering, plus a defeat to Gateshead. His extended loan sees him through to a New Year’s Day visit from Maidenhead United… but first a home FA Cup tie against Bradford City.
It isn’t just Smith and Osho who could be involved in the FA Cup this weekend. AFC Wimbledon, so often the underdog story themselves, visit Haringey Borough in Friday night’s televised fixture. After four straight league defeats which Tennai Watson watched from the bench, his recall into the starting XI for the Checkatrade Trophy fixture on Tuesday was met with a 4-0 win over Stevenage. He’ll hope to retain his place this weekend.
Likewise Lewis Ward helped Northampton to a clean-sheet and a 2-0 win against Fulham’s Under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday – their FA Cup journey begins at Lincoln on Saturday. And Ade Shokunbi and Billericay, who have made great strides to get to the First Round already, will hope to take advantage of Chesterfield’s poor form since suffering relegation to the National League in the summer.