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Rupert Wyman 4th Dec 2008 - 11:29

Smith looks to lift the gloom around Oxford

Oxford legend Jim Smith is back in the managerial hotseat, albeit only on a caretaker basis, after being temporarily appointed folllowing the sacking of manager Darren Patterson last weekend.

Jim Smith has had two previous spells in charge of Oxford, the first spell beginning way back in 1982.

In his second full season in charge Smith led The U's to the old Third Division title; a year later the old Second Division title followed before departing Oxford for the challenge of QPR.

It was not until 2006 that 'The Bald Eagle' returned to Oxford for his second stint as manager and it is fair to say that this spell was not very successful. Smith tried to save Oxford from relegation from League 2 but could not keep them up.

Then, despite much promise, Oxford failed to bounce back and gain promotion to the Football League at the first attempt and since then have remained in the Conference/Blue Square Premier.

Afer a poor start to the 2007/08 season Jim Smith moved upstairs to be replaced by Darren Patterson but following Patterson's sacking Smith is back in charge.

For his first match back in charge Smith takes his Oxford side to face fellow strugglers Mansfield at Field Mill. Mansfield started this season promisingly losing just one of their first eight matches as they looked to return to League 2 following their relegation last season.

However, since then The Stags have only won two of the last twelve matches. This run of results has seen Mansfield slide down the table towards the relegation zone.

Tonight's encounter is live on Setanta Sports 1 and Mansfield are favourites in the betting to grab the three points at odds of 11/10. An away win is available at 12/5 with the draw also at 12/5.

Oxford have struggled away from home winning just one match and scoring seven goals in their ten league matches away from the Kassam Stadium.

Mansfield on the other hand have a good home record having won six of their nine home matches but with their recent run of form it is hard to get excited about the short odds for a home win.

The draw looks like the bet to be on as Jim Smith seeks to improve things for Oxford.

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