Oxford United: Michael Raynes expects tight promotion race

Oxford United defender Michael Raynes says on the evidence of the league so far he is expecting a thrilling race for promotion this season.

The U's go into their match against Bristol Rovers on Saturday at the summit of League Two.

Who is Michael Raynes?

  • Signed for Oxford in July 2012
  • Has also played for Stockport, Scunthorpe and Rotherham, making 208 Football League appearances in total
  • Played 36 times for Rotherham last season but was released halfway through a two-year deal by new boss Steve Evans
  • Was wanted on trial by Liverpool as a 17-year-old, a request rejected by Stockport

Only goal difference separates them and second-placed Rochdale and only three points separate the top nine teams.

"I don't think it will stretch," Raynes told BBC Radio Oxford. "I think it will be the tightest one for a while."

He added: "There is that much quality in the league and everyone is going to beat everyone. I don't think there is going to be a Gillingham who run away with it. I think it is going to go down to the wire."

Raynes, 26, says with no clear front runners at this stage, the teams who eventually win promotion to League One could be decided in the final games of the season.

And he urged his team-mates to maintain their promotion push having set a high standard in their opening 14 matches of the campaign.

"It is nice to be top," he added. "You've got to look at Scunthorpe - had they won in [midweek] they would have gone joint top but they lost and went ninth. So we are not going to get carried away.

"There is a long way to go. I don't think we are a third of the way through but if we can get to that stage and be top and put a marker down that will stand us in good stead.

"It's a great league, we're doing the right things and staying positive win, lose or draw. Nothing has been decided yet but we have a hunger to stay top."