Sam Ricketts: Oxford are best in league
Sam Ricketts insists Shrewsbury Town are far more resolute than 12 months ago – as the boss plots stopping ‘the best team in League One’ on Saturday.
Town head to the Kassam Stadium aiming to put a halt to one of the division’s form sides.
Karl Robinson’s U’s are sixth with a game in hand on most of their rivals as well as having a League Cup quarter-final against Manchester City on the horizon.
But Ricketts, who celebrated a year in the job this week, feels being more sturdy in defence has been Town’s biggest improvement under his guidance ahead of facing the second-highest scorers, who boast the best goal difference in League One.
Asked if he feels Shrewsbury have made strides under his spell, Ricketts said: “I think so. I think we’re more resolute. We’re a tougher nut to crack.
“We’re not perfect, but we’re a stronger outfit, that’s for sure, while also knowing we’ve got an awful lot to improve on.
“We’re in the very, very early stages of what we’re trying to do with so many new players. You think players have been here a while, but a lot have only been here six months.
“When you talk about building a successful side, a lot of teams are in their second or third season when they’ve had players together a long time. You see in our team partnerships starting to grow.
“It takes time and repetition of games and training to know each other’s personalities as well.”
Having only won one of their opening seven games this term, Oxford turned their form on its head and are unbeaten in their last 10 league matches, winning seven.
They have scored 27 goals and conceded just four in that spell. The Yellows have won each of their previous home league fixtures 3-0.
The Town chief added: “It’ll be a good game. I think they’re the best team in the league. They’re unbeaten in 10 and scoring threes or fours most weeks.
“It’s a test we’ll get ready for and be ready to go.”
Ricketts’ Town managed to limit league top scorers Peterborough, who have three goals more than Oxford, to drawing a blank having also managed clean sheets against Portsmouth and Sunderland.
n Shrewsbury and Bristol Rovers have both been fined £3,500 for the melee that took place during their recent League One clash.
Both clubs admitted that they failed to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from provocative behaviour and/or violent conduct.
The incident happened in the 17th minute of the game on November 23 after Town were denied a penalty.