Oxford United have moved into the playoffs for the first time this season after recording two home victories. It was also a memorable week for U’s defender Sam Long, who penned a new long term contract and scored three goals from two games.
Oxford United Weekly Round-Up: Week to Remember for Sam Long Both On and Off the Field
Oxford United ended last week with equalling a record-breaking away victory with a 6-0 success at Crewe Alexandra. The U’s began this week with Oxford-born defender Sam Long signing a new three-year deal.
Having joined the club at the age of eight, Long has had to bide his time to gain regular football. Injuries, loan moves away and missing out of the squad has been a regular occurrence since he made his senior debut in 2013, while the likes of loan signings George Baldock, Jonjoe Kenny and Chris Cadden, among others, have kept him out of the side.
Of his 123 U’s appearances, 97 have come under the stewardship of manager Karl Robinson, who was equally as delighted to tie the defender down to a new deal. He has also managed 39 appearances this season and scored six goals.
Victory Over Shrewsbury Town
Sam Long celebrated his new contract by scoring the fourth goal in a 4-1 win over Shrewsbury Town. Defender Rob Atkinson netted his first Oxford goal before Elliot Lee doubled the host’s advantage before the break.
Although Shrewsbury reduced the deficit, second-half strikes from Matty Taylor and Long sealed a comfortable win for Robinson’s side.
As a result, the U’s scored ten goals from their wins over Crewe and Shrewsbury with ten different goal scorers.
Narrow Win Over Gillingham With Sam Long Netting Late Brace
Oxford’s playoff hopes were almost dealt a significant blow when Steve Evans’ Gillingham found themselves two goals up with just 18 minutes remaining at Grenoble Road.
However, substitute Sam Winnall pulled one back just after the Gills netted their second before Long headed home a Ruffels cross with just six minutes remaining.
Then, with a draw looking likely, Long latched onto a Cameron Brannagan delivery to secure an amazing comeback.
The win moved Oxford into the top six for the first time this season with just four games remaining. Although sides around them have games in hand, the U’s have hit form at the right time of the season.
Proud History, Bright Future
With the likes of Long, Ruffels and Stevens enjoying regular first-team football, the three academy graduates have shown the youngsters at the club that it is possible to break into the first team.
Earlier this week, 17-year-old Tyler Goodrham signed his first professional contract. The midfielder became the club’s youngest ever player aged 16 years and 98 days old when he featured against Crawley Town in the Football League Trophy in November 2019, and although he has been hampered with injuries, he has impressed for the U’s U21 side.