Lewis happy as Cobblers striker Akinfenwa draws a rare blank

HAPPY LADS - Oxford celebrate their winning goal against the Cobblers (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
HAPPY LADS - Oxford celebrate their winning goal against the Cobblers (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Oxford United assistant manager Mickey Lewis insists his side did not have a specific gameplan to neutralise the Cobblers’ leading marksman Adebayo Akinfenwa.

The powerhouse striker drew a blank when starting a game for the first time since the first week of November in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at the Kassam Stadium.

Akinfenwa was unable to add to his impressive tally of 13 goals in 24 appearances in the defeat, although Northampton remain just two points off the npower League Two top seven.

Several clubs have tried to come up with strategies for the big man, with varying degrees of success, but Lewis says there was nothing specific for Akinfenwa in the Oxford tactical set-up for the match.

“He’s a really tough player to play against and you have to try to get people around him,” said Lewis.

“He’s so good when he gets the ball into his feet and into his chest, he brings people into the game so the most important thing is to get players around him to stop that.

“I wouldn’t say we had a plan for him, you know what he’s good at and with any player you try to stop them doing what they’re good at.”

Saturday’s game was a strange one, with the Cobblers having the majority of territory and possession but Oxford scoring twice and hitting the woodwork twice.

James Constable gave Oxford a 14th-minute lead, and although the visitors equalised through substitute Clive Platt, Jon-Paul Pittman scored almost immediately to settle the contest.

The home side were under pressure from their own fans going into the game, but Lewis feels the return to fitness of a number of key players will prove vital, and that the club can start looking upwards now their injury crisis is beginning to ease.

“It was a really good performance against a really good team who put you under a lot of pressure,” he said.

“If someone was at this match who didn’t support either club they’d say that was a really good, open game.

“They’ve been on a really good run and are playing with a lot of confidence. They came at us a lot more because we got the early goal and that perhaps left a bit of space.

“We know that ourselves because it’s happened against us on a number of occasions and that’s why it’s important to get the first goal.

“We’ve got some players back now. We’ve had a lot of people out injured and a lot of problems but now we’re getting some of those players back we’re starting to look better.”