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Smalley on the mark again for Oxford United
9:00am Thursday 26th July 2012 in Sport
Deane Smalley says he is enjoying the best pre-season of his career after rediscovering his form in front of goal for Oxford United .
The striker took his tally for the summer to three goals in as many games with a penalty in the 2-1 win against Seacoast United Mariners.
Along with efforts against West Ham and Didcot Town, it meant the 23-year-old has scored more goals in a week than he did in a hugely disappointing first year with the U’s last season.
Smalley, who was loaned out to Bradford City in January, is thrilled to have hit the ground running so far and is desperate to make up for lost time.
He said: “I feel like this is my best pre-season up to now. That’ll stand me in good stead for the rest of the season. “I’m very hungry, especially coming off the back of a season with Chesterfield before I came here where I scored a few goals. “To come here and only score two goals in half a season is disappointing for me personally. I have the desire in me to go and score goals, but not just that – I want to be successful with this team.”
The former Oldham Athletic striker is cautious not to get carried away, mindful of the fact he scored regularly in pre-season 12 months ago.
When asked about what went wrong once the season started, Smalley struggles to explain how it happened.
He said: “I’m not too sure, I think I settled in well and got to know the lads. “It was just the start of the season didn’t go my way, I didn’t get off to a good start goals-wise, but I don’t think I can put my finger on a specific thing.”
United boss Chris Wilder believes it was down to Smalley feeling the pressure to live up to expectations after scoring 12 goals in Chesterfield’s npower League Two-winning side.
He said: “It was a major transfer for Deane and we beat off a lot of competition to get him. “There was a lot of pressure and in terms of footballers, there’s a lot of things that go into their make-up and he possibly felt the pressure of coming down away from home and having to justify himself.”
But the U’s boss is delighted with what he has seen from the striker since the players returned for training this month.
He said: “Smalley looks a different player to me – he looks confident and he’ll kick himself on again.”