Michael Appleton is hoping that the Oxford v Newcastle match goes ahead unaffected by the weather.
Tuesday night saw icy conditions hit Oxford’s match with Bradford in the Checkatrade Torphy, with a final pitch inspection only 20 minutes before kick-off leaving the referee with no alternative but to postpone the game until this coming Tuesday.
Part of the pitch was deemed too dangerous for the players, with injuries possible due to the frozen condition.
Oxford are facing fixture congestion but as well as keeping everything crossed that Saturday’s match goes ahead, Michael Appleton accepts that his Chairman will be also hoping for an extra game to be added to their already busy schedule, a lucrative FA Cup replay at St James Park.
I have to think that the last thing Rafa Benitez will want is another cup replay, that would have to be fitted in between the Derby and Wolves matches in the Championship (see fixture schedule below).
The icy conditions are set to continue throughout Thursday but the forecast towards the weekend looks better, so hopefully there is little/no chance of the 1,800 Newcastle fans experiencing what the Bradford supporters did on Tuesday night.
Oxford Head Coach Michael Appleton speaking to the Oxford Mail:
“I can assure you we wanted the game on, because we’ve got that many coming up.
“God forbid if we took Newcastle to a replay as well, although I’m sure the chairman will be delighted, then it would become congested.
“We’ll have to go and do it (Bradford cup game) again next Tuesday.
“Hopefully the weather will be a bit better between now and the weekend so we can get the Newcastle game on and this again next Tuesday.
“As frustrating as it is I can understand the referee making the decision.
“You have to put the safety of the players first and foremost because if any of them land heavily on this part of the pitch it’s very dangerous.”
Tuesday night’s referee Dean Whitestone:
“When we arrived there was an area of firmness and when we came out for the warm-up it was apparent it had deteriorated substantially.
“It caused me a concern, there’s a safety issue. We have to take as many factors into consideration as possible.
“I spoke to the groundsman and there have been two pitch inspections. It’s not an exact science how long we leave it.
“You have to make a decision and at this point it was about 7.25pm. It’s disappointing. Everyone was here and it’s not an ideal situation, but I can’t risk someone getting injured by starting the game on a frozen pitch.
“It’s unsafe and I’ve got no alternative.”
For younger fans supporting clubs at the upper end of English football, it must seem like another world to hear of matches being called off because it gets a bit cold.
However, for those of us who have been around a little longer, before undersoil heating became the norm, games could often be threatened when bad weather came along.
Newcastle United’s current upcoming schedule:
Saturday 28 January – Oxford v Newcastle (3pm)
Wednesday 1 February – Newcastle v QPR (7.45pm) – SKY SPORTS
Saturday 4 February – Newcastle v Derby (3pm)
Saturday 11 February – Wolves v Newcastle (5.30pm) – SKY SPORTS
Tuesday 14 February – Norwich v Newcastle (7.45pm)
Monday 20 February – Newcastle v Aston Villa (8pm) – SKY SPORTS
Saturday 25 February – Newcastle v Bristol City (3pm)
Tuesday 28 February – Brighton v Newcastle (7.45pm) – SKY SPORTS
Saturday 4 March – Huddersfield v Newcastle (5.30pm) – SKY SPORTS
Tuesday 7 March – Reading v Newcastle (7.45pm)
Saturday 11 March – Newcastle v Fulham (3pm)
Saturday 18 March – Birmingham v Newcastle (3pm)