Des Buckingham urges Oxford to be more consistent in promotion push

By Sports Desk January 13, 2024

Oxford boss Des Buckingham has urged his players to find their consistency after a 3-1 win at Carlisle.

The promotion-chasing U’s remain in the hunt after Mark Harris’ double and Tyler Goodrham’s effort at Brunton Park.

Alfie McColmont’s goal was a mere consolation for the relegation-threatened Cumbrians, but Buckingham’s charges are three points off the top three after a fourth victory in six games.

“It’s a big win for us,” said the Oxford manager.

“We’re obviously still short of bodies ourselves, but we’re slowly starting to get right.

“It’s about trying to remain consistent and if we do that the performances will come.

“It’s important with 20 games to go to get as many points as possible.”

Harris’ brace, with goals either side of half-time, took his tally to four in four, and Buckingham is pleased as punch his striker is getting the rewards after an 11-game goal drought.

He said: “Mark’s getting some reward for the efforts he put in for the spell he had when he wasn’t scoring.

“We’ve spoken in the dressing room about standards so we don’t get too high or too low with the performance or the result.

“Mark Harris’ attitude to that spell where he wasn’t scoring, he was creating, he was hitting the bar and the post and the keepers were making good saves. If he could continue doing that he would be scoring and it’s great to see those efforts hitting the net rather than the woodwork or the keeper now.”

Struggling Carlisle have won just one of their last 12 league games and boss Paul Simpson believes the difference has been the quality in front of goal.

He said: “They are a very good side. They’re a club that is gearing up to try and be promoted.

“When we didn’t make those opportunities count in the first half they started to get control of the game.

“The first goal was a set-play and it was a really simple thing where we don’t pick up the biggest centre-half on the pitch, he’s 6ft 4in, and he gets a free header. You go a goal down and you’re up against it and we were rocked a bit.

“The second goal is an absolute sickener to give that away when the striker runs through two centre-backs. If we had VAR it would be given offside.

“But we don’t, it’s down to the human eye. Whether it’s right or wrong is debatable, we don’t really know. We were chasing it after that.

“That was the difference, the difference in quality in the final third separated us. We’ve got in there and not been able to test the keeper enough.

“Things go against you when you’re down but we stuck at it, kept trying to give it a go. There were incidents where we should have done better and worked the goalkeeper more.”

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