Article by Paul Beasley Tuesday, May 7th, 2024  


(Photo, Steve Daniels)



For this I got the bus into the city centre at about 15:30 with a mate, Ian, from Warrington who was stopping with us. I was after a couple of beers to steady my nerves and a fair old walk to give me something to do.

First stop was the Chequers. Ian’s pint was crystal clear. There was a young (well he looked young to me) lad at the bar wearing a blue football shirt and scarf. I assumed he was a Posh fan but as I was about to make conversation realised he was a very happy Tractor Boy, Ipswich having earlier secured automatic promotion to the Premier League. A year ago they were in League One. Football, bloody hell.

In the outdoor drinking area there were lots of groups of yellow shirts. The TV screens were showing Brackley v Boston. Hardly any attention was being paid to this with minds focused on the forthcoming action at 19:45 about four miles away. As I cross the border into Northants a couple of times a season when OUFC don’t have a game I took a passing interest. I saw the home team concede in added time at the end of the first half to make it 1-1 at the break. They ended up losing 2-1 and kept up their pattern of always getting so close to the National league but not quite making it. I knew of two people who were attending both matches and there will have been more. I hoped that wasn’t an omen as these are our third play-off semis in five years.

Nah, different altogether. None of this could take my mind off what was ahead. It was building. The anticipation just kept growing all the way through to kick off.

Walking down the High Street we encountered about a dozen women who, whilst not smashed, appeared to have had a few drinks. I would have said “hen do” but they were dressed too smartly for that. When they realised they were blocking our way they were very polite and stepped back at which point one of them noticed Ian’s Oxford shirt. She started chanting “yellows, yellows”. This made me feel good. I then felt the whole city was aware and were behind Oxford United.

Second stop was the Library on Cowley Road. No it isn’t, it’s a pub, but we did talk football in it. A couple more yellow shirts in there but the young lad (always a young lad at the bar?) we got chatting to was a Newcastle fan despite his local accent. As is my way I have to ask, in a very non-judgemental way, why someone supports a side when they’re not from that area. I’m just a nosey git. His dad’s a Geordie. He gets to two or three games a season at St James’ Park and does it by air. Other than the Dublin tour it has never entered my head to fly to a northern game.

Just round the corner there were plenty of Oxford fans in the Black Swan. This was big.

From the Library, where the craft beer was very nice, to the Marsh Harrier, a pub I have not been in for about 30 years. The garden out the back was full of Oxford fans. Faces I knew. A whole scene I was unaware of. It is two miles from there to the ground. They get taxis. After a good pint of London Pride Ian and I did it on foot.

Often when I approach the Kassam I can’t help but think there’s no hint of a football match about to happen.  The place is dead. Here it was the very opposite. Once inside the atmosphere blew me away. I’d say the best ever, seriously. Whoever was responsible please take a bow. The balloons, the banners, the noise which was constant from start to finish. And it wasn’t just one area of the ground, it was everywhere. I’ll overlook all the corporates sitting behind the Directors box coming back three minutes after the start of the second half.

(I later found out these are some of our wonderful fans responsible. Photo, Steve Daniels)

I honestly don’t think our fans could have backed the team any better than they did. The Peterborough following contributed too. I think they might have had a drum but if they did that was drowned out, which is as it should be. There were 1478 of them present in the “sellout” crowd of 11,125. That’s 13.29% of the total. I might just come back to the matter of ticket allocation, availability and pricing. It’s a massive issue and cannot and should not be ignored.

For now I’ll focus on the positive, this wonderful football match. One reason the ramped up atmosphere remained throughout was what the 22 players on the pitched delivered without let up.  

I’ve long looked on Peterborough as a side that trades goals and the stats bear that out. Over the 46 games they were L1’s highest scorers with 89. We were 4th best with 79. Their games also had the highest total goals scores, 150. Our total of 135 was the 5th highest.

This though was never going to be a devil may care we’ll outscore the opposition approach for either team. Both managers are way too sensible for that. You’ll have realised by now that I’ve warmed much more to Des Buckingham since we started to play with belief and the team look like they know what the shape and game plan is. I think that may have been down to the help he has been getting in more recent times with recruitment of back room staff that fit the bill. They’re so important. Joe Moore, “First Team Coach Analyst”, arrived in March. So when it really appeared that the wheels were coming off and rolling away never to be retrieved unfair blame was being apportioned.

5-0 to us last time we played them at the Kassam just three weeks ago was never going to be the outcome again but that we ended up keeping these free scorers from scoring again has to bode well. They’ll point out that they beat us convincingly at their place 3-0 back in December. That though was only Buckingham’s third game in charge. We’re now a different beast.

We looked sharp from the very first second and were doing just about everything very quickly without looking rushed and out of control. To be able to do this if we are to end up at a higher level is an absolute must.

For a lot of the first half I thought Peterborough seemed quite happy to let us have the ball keeping solid shape themselves but with half an eye out for an opportunity as they know they’ve got players who can hurt their opponents should the opportunity be presented. Opportunities weren’t being presented though by either side. It was a game of chess with both teams doing everything right defensively. This meant there were no standout players because everyone was at the same high level but with a lot of cancelling out. And it will have escaped no-one that there was a second leg to come.

Given the way the game played out I was surprised that the final possession stats only show us having the ball 43% of the time. No question Posh had more of it in the second half but perhaps my perception of what happened in the first period wasn’t the correct one.

I do distinctly remember many a Peterborough foul, which isn’t really their way and this was borne out by the count. They committed 17 to our seven. That’s Darren Ferguson getting his team to do what he considered needed doing to get what he wanted from the game, whatever that may have been. They were designed to stop us getting our attacking passing game going. Many were close to bookings and I got very frustrated with referee Lewis Smith for not waving a card to try and put a stop to it. As it happened we had two players given a yellow, Ruben Rodrigues and Joe Bennet long before any visitor suffered the same punishment. Both totally justified I may add. Ephron Mason-Clark got his in the 73rd minute and Archie Collins on 90+3. Other than in this regard I thought Smith officiated very well.

This wasn’t an encounter where keepers had to make save after save and just about every effort on target was straight at them but that was down to almost faultless defending and Jamie Cumming and Jed Steer positioning themselves in the correct place at all times.

Other than these, Tyler Goodrham had a sweet shot from distance on 21 minutes that wasn’t far from finding the top corner. And whilst attacking the fence end Elliott Moore headed over from a corner. He was a handful in the air.

Peterborough’s one effort other than those Cumming gathered with ease was in the 83rd minute when he went down to his right to knock the ball away, but not very far away. It wasn’t 100% convincing but we were keeping them out.

For most of the second half it was them coming at us more than we were going at them and truth be told after we’d got that, hopefully priceless, goal in the 53rd minute we never looked like getting a second.

The final count showed that we had four shots on target from eight and Peterborough had five on target from 10.

Happily I no longer have the thinking that “we can’t keep clean sheets”. We can and we are doing. It’s not by luck. It’s down to our set-up, the players and the way they’re playing.

In a match as tight as this there was always a good chance that goals would be scarce. One would probably win it or at least ensure the team opening the scoring were almost guaranteed not to lose. 

The corner from which we scored was won and taken by Josh Murphy.  It went beyond the far post where Cameron Brannagan did exceptionally well to head back across goal. Captain Moore rose higher than his marker to push the decibels even higher.

(Photo, Steve Daniels)

It can be hard for a sub to come on in a game like this and immediately hook into the tempo. In the 71st minute Rodrigues and Owen Dale were replaced by Josh McEachran and Marcus Browne. Six minutes later it was Goodrham off and Billy Bodin on.  

McEachran excels at not giving the ball away and that was needed here. Although we made it to the end with our lead intact without a great deal of worry, it would have been very helpful if the other two arrivals had contributed a lot more. Des may have been looking for a second as these are not defensive players. I was particularly disappointed in Browne. He seemed to lose the ball way too easily on one occasion. That’s bad enough in any game but when the stakes are so high it can really cost you.

The tie could not be more finely balanced. It will be so interesting and nerve shredding to see how the plot plays out in the second leg. Will Peterborough come out all guns blazing hoping for an early goal to seize the initiative in an attempt to demoralise us? Or will they play a more patient game? They’ve got 90 minutes of home advantage and are only one behind.

And the same with us. If we got an early goal that would really rattle the home side but in trying to get it we could leave ourselves open. If you do that against Peterborough you’ll pay for it.

This is all for Buckingham and Ferguson to work out and for us to then enjoy/suffer.

Will I be there to witness this live? Originally it was a no but now it is a yes.


Much has obviously already been written about the matter of getting in to London Road on Wednesday.

I suspect my initial experience was like that of many others. I have never been a fan of Ticketmaster. I’ve had to change my password when using my Yellows account more than any other. I’ve often had the message “we don’t recognise your password” when I’m 99.9% sure I’ve entered the correct one. In this episode I even tried logging on using a different browser. One accepted the password the other didn’t.

There was of course also the farce of the printed home tickets making it look like Oxford supporters were actually Posh fans.

So much for “the computer says no” and it’s a “systems glitch”. Humans are responsible for designing the systems, testing the systems, monitoring the systems, implementing and upgrading the systems, setting the appropriate parameters and entering input when required. When things go wrong some person, or more likely group of people, are responsible. This of course is nothing compared to Horizon which is one of the worst national scandals this country has known but that’s no comfort to those who travel the length and breadth of the country watching the Yellows, the Barrow on a Tuesday night types, who have missed out.

I have had the correct Yellows account for ages and I can categorically say that it did NOT “ensure a smooth ticket-buying process”.

Some fans did smoothly get a ticket for Peterborough away. Others fell at various hurdles with some unable to get out of the starting blocks.

On 30 April the club put this out, “Due to the volume of Season Ticket holders who created new Yellows Accounts in error over the weekend, we have taken the decision to extend Season Ticket holders seat reservations until 3:00pm on Wednesday 1st May.” This indicates to me that there were a fair few ST supporters who don’t usually buy tickets for away games. If they did they would already have a Yellows Account that worked. Would they now be after away tickets too?

It had been publicised that away tickets would become available from 16:00 on 1st May. I successfully logged in a few minutes before then and checked that the tickets had not been released early. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Tickets, click, book-on-line, click, no they weren’t in the drop down menu. At bang on 4 o’clock I went through the same procedure. There it was in upcoming events – click on buy now. Did it take me to “buy now” – did it buggery. Update your profile. I was in a loop. I tried a few times. Still in a loop and starting to go loopy. I was hoping the system was completely broken so that we were all in the same boat. Stress levels were rising. I checked one of my WhatsApp groups. One mate had success in getting a ticket, the others though were encountering problems too. Some the same as mine. Another got as far as getting tickets into his basket only for the system to then fail to play ball.

I was telling myself not to panic. I’ve never failed to get a ticket for an Oxford game. I was one of those who got into Kenilworth Road in 1986. My language though was of the effing and jeffing variety.

It seemed like an eternity but I think it was just before quarter past four that I was no longer asked to update my profile. There it was, Peterborough away match tickets – but it was greyed out. No options to select a ticket. Then checking social media: “sold out”. Then the club put out a statement “sold out in less than 30 minutes”. Some were saying it sold out in about three minutes. That release also included “Thank you for your continued support and backing, as you ensure both home and away legs in this crucial Sky Bet League One semi-final play-off will be filled with Yellow Army supporters”. I felt empty. I honestly felt a big disconnect between myself and the club. Surely something had gone very wrong here. At that time I felt those words were taking the piss.

I fully understand that demand was going to exceed supply. Would be interesting to know exactly what each was.

Demand. I don’t know how many season ticket holders we have but would guess at a figure of somewhere above 5,000. I am aware of quite a few who didn’t try and get a ticket for themselves or allow their details to be used to get one for a friend. I’d therefore guess that there would be no more than a couple of thousand trying to get tickets, either directly or via the assigned accounts option, as soon as they became available. Talk of non-season ticket holders getting them directly would seem to be nonsense because those who did get them for others confirmed that they could only obtain one using another ST holders details from their linked accounts.

The number of season ticket holding supporters I know who travel to all or just about all away games who missed out is way too high. I know more who didn’t get one than did. In theory every person who bought a season ticket had an equal chance. But of course they didn’t. Some would have been at work and unable to get on to the internet. There could have been connection problems which had nothing to do with the OUFC Yellows Account/Ticketmaster.

But what’s fair? There will be so many differing views. Some season ticket holders don’t go to many, or even any, away games but they will have had an equal chance along with those who had done all 46.  Which brings us on to the need for a points system. I’m all for that but how points are awarded will be subjective and what suits one person will not suit another.

Supply. From the OUFC site: “More than 1,300 tickets were provided”. Um! 1,301 is more than 1,300. But so is 5,000. Why not say exactly how many the club were given to sell?

There’s different information out there on Peterborough’s home capacity but I think 13,511 is about right. That includes 1,888 in the main stand which is where away fans are housed. I get why they want to restrict the number of opposition supporters present to get behind the Yellows but if it is only 1,300 that’s a bit shy of the 10% which is supposed to be given. I’ll guess it may have been 1,351 to hit that 10%. Meaning 500 empty spaces. On that basis we could have cut them back by 300 at our place but didn’t.

How many of the total though, whatever that figure may have been, was actually available at 16:00 on May Day?  The players will have had some for family and friends and are there categories of support above ST holders that have a more privileged route into the ticket pot? Is there a modern day equivalent of the Maurice Evans lounge? Corporate box holders, etc?

Anyway thanks to some very kind people I have got a ticket and have had a further offer. It was so much appreciated and that is why I was in the Marsh Harrier, to pay for it.

Now to concentrate on the second leg but this ticketing situation should not be allowed to happen again. I’m no longer fuming but some probably still are.

(Photo, Steve Daniels)

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