FA Cup: Oxford United confident of causing Middlesbrough upset

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FA Cup: Oxford United focused on causing Middlesbrough upset

Oxford United are focused on having more than just "a big day out" when they face Premier League Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fifth round.

League One Oxford have already knocked out Championship clubs Rotherham and Newcastle on their way to a first last-16 tie since 1994.

"The prize is massive to try and get through the tie," manager Michael Appleton told BBC South Today.

"If we don't go there and perform, we know Middlesbrough can turn us over."

More than 3,200 Oxford fans will travel to Teesside as the Yellows bid to reach the quarter-final stage for the first time since 1964.

Before Tuesday's home league defeat by Southend United, Appleton had taken the U's on a run of five successive wins in all competitions.

An EFL Trophy semi-final against Luton awaits in early March, while their first season back in the third tier sees them seven points off the play-offs entering the final three months.

"We go into the game in a decent frame of mind and have nothing to lose," Appleton said. "But, we will understand and respect the quality we're going up against.

"That's got to be the most important thing. If we can keep it nip-and-tuck early doors and get to around the 60 to 70-minute mark and still be in the game, that's when it becomes a bit interesting."

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Boro's current Premier League predicament, on the fringes of the relegation zone, may mean the FA Cup is a distraction for Aitor Karanka's men.

"It's a freebie for us," Oxford captain John Lundstram said, confident they can cause an upset. "We can go out there with no fear and show them what we're about.

"We're in great form and we can carry that into the game. If they underestimate us, hopefully we can take advantage and cause a shock."

Lundstram's thoughts are echoed by team-mate Chris Maguire, who feels the occasion will suit them.

"We held our own against Newcastle, who are another team who should be in the Premier League next season," the striker said.

"We'll look to do the same again in this tie. It's going to be a great day, but we're going there with one thing in mind, trying to win the game."

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