Six games unbeaten hardly compares with the twenty eight which Luton brought to The Valley last Saturday but, as far as Oxford are concerned, their results over the last two months represent a vast improvement which has lifted them to mid table security after six months spent in the bottom four.
When they lost 2-4 at Accrington on February 19th they were in 22nd place. Nine games later with just one defeat (0-1 at Gillingham) they welcome Charlton from twelfth position, nine points above the relegation places.
This recent run coincides with the arrival in the team of one Ahmed Kashi - signed on loan from Troyes in the January window. We know how much Karl Robinson likes to sign players he knows but Kashi spent most of his first month at the club on the bench and didn't make the team until the home game with Rochdale (0-0) on March 12th. With him in the starting line-up Oxford then won four consecutive games - at home to Bradford (1-0) and Wycombe (2-1) and away at Coventry (1-0) and Walsall (3-1).
Kashi was yellow carded in the 16th minute of the Walsall game and substituted in the 83rd. He was so excited when his team scored their third in the 97th minute that he came on the pitch to celebrate and was promptly given a second yellow for "excessive celebration". Without him on Saturday, Oxford could only manage a 0-0 home draw with Wimbledon.
Robinson has lost none of his famed ability to contradict himself in the space of one sentence. Speaking after the Accrington defeat he said: " I can't ask for any more of the players but we're just not clinical enough when the chances come along". Nevertheless, he must take the credit for recruiting Kashi and for the reversal of the team's fortunes. The club directors should also be congratulated for sticking with him when the pressure must have been on them earlier in the season.
However, not everything at The Kassam Stadium is running smoothly. In another daunting example of the danger of the ownership of club and stadium being separated, Oxford have been served with a winding-up petition by their landlords Firoka (owned by former club owner and chairman Firoz Kassam) for £204,000 in unpaid rent and service charges. The petition is due to be heard at the High Court on 22 May. It will be the fifth served on the club since February 2018, when Thai businessman and former Reading majority shareholder Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth took over.
Kassam says Firoka have exhausted all other available options to obtain the money they are owed. "This is about a tenant-landlord relationship," he said. "I'm not a bank, I don't service other people's companies. To have that situation continuously tells its own story and that the business is not in control of what it's doing."
The Charlton squad will arrive at the stadium with the contractual situation of the management team and key players still unresolved, but will be full of confidence after the win over Luton on Saturday. Because of the early kick off it only needs a 13-0 away win for the Addicks to be in the automatic promotion places before their rivals even kick off. You heard it here first.