Stimmo meets the old master

PUBLISHED: 10:08 30 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:17 06 May 2010

Santos Gaia is back from suspension for Boro this Saturday

Santos Gaia is back from suspension for Boro this Saturday

Marcus Crawley reports The apprentice meeting the master is how Boro boss Mark Stimson views this weekend s clash against Oxford United. Oxford have taken the Conference by storm this season after their relegation from League Two and remained unbeaten unt

Boro ace Steve Guppy

Marcus Crawley reports

The apprentice meeting the master is how Boro boss Mark Stimson views this weekend's clash against Oxford United.

Oxford have taken the Conference by storm this season after their relegation from League Two and remained unbeaten until a recent loss at Gravesend.

They are managed by veteran Jim Smith, a man who bought Stimson twice as a player.

"I know Jim well and he bought me for Newcastle from Spurs and then for Portsmouth from Newcastle.

"He's got bundles of passion for the game and he helped me a lot in my own career.

"He taught me to be honest, both to yourself and to your players, and I learned a lot from him. It's a bit like the apprentice and the master but I won't be overawed."

Oxford are expected to bring between 800-1000 fans to Broadhall Way this weekend.

Stimson continued: "I can't wait for Saturday to come.

"It's the biggest league game so far, certainly since we played Woking.

"Oxford have got bags of experience in their side.

"And with our support, it will be a good battle off the pitch for who makes the most noise."

The visitors will include one of the top goalscorers in the Conference this season in Rob Duffy, a striker who enjoyed a brief and unproductive spell at Boro towards the end of Graham Westley's reign.

This game will be followed by a home game against Gravesend on December 9, with Boro also drawn at home to Merthyr Tydfil in the FA Trophy on December 16.

Stimson said: "They are three tough games but we'll look at the Trophy tie nearer the time.

"It's always good to get a home tie in the cup.

"For me, the next game is always the most important one."

Jon Nurse and Santos Gaia are back in the fold for Boro this weekend after suspension.

Nurse has been courted by Woking but Stimson said the club has not received a written offer for the versatile forward player.

Barry Fuller is rated as "50-50" after picking up a knock in Saturday's 2-1 victory at Kidderminster Harriers.

Winger Steve Guppy was the star man after making his return from injury for the game.

"Steve has got class," confirmed Stimson. "He slows the game down when he has to and that will be important this Saturday against Oxford with the experience in their side.

"His delivery from set pieces is also top class and that's important at this level.

"He is a player we have missed without doubt."

Boro's reserves were off on Tuesday night due to the wet weather.

Premiership Watford are the visitors to Boro this Tuesday for a Herts Senior Cup tie.

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