The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Colin Hen­rys

OX­FORD en­sured they re­main the early League Two lead­ers af­ter a stir­ring sec­ond-half per­for­mance gave them a com­fort­able win at Torquay.

Deane Smal­ley and sub­sti­tutes James Con­sta­ble and Asa Hall fired Chris Wilder’s side to their third straight league vic­tory, with Jor­dan Chapell pro­vid­ing Torquay’s only re­sponse.

Briefly an as­sis­tant to Alan Knill at Bury, Wilder has now de­feated his for­mer boss on con­sec­u­tive trips to Plain­moor, and was pleased to have over­come dif­fi­cult con­di­tions in Devon.

“It was a good three points,” he said.“We have had to work re­ally hard for that. I think the con­di­tions were dif­fi­cult for both sides and we have had to de­fend.

“This is not go­ing to be an easy place to come and get three points. No­body’s go­ing to hand any­thing on a plate to any­body in this league.

“But we’ve scored at great times again. The good thing for me is the at­ti­tude of the team – all 11 starters – and I’m de­lighted for Asa and Beano be­cause they’ve come on and played a ma­jor part.”

The en­counter burst into life on the stroke of half-time when Ox­ford cap­tain Jake Wright headed Billy Bodin’s side-footed vol­ley off the line be­fore Ryan Clarke saved from Court­ney Cameron.

Within min­utes of the restart Smal­ley met Danny Rose’s cor­ner at the front post to vol­ley the vis­i­tors in front.

Torquay could have lev­elled within a minute when Cal­lum Ball’s sear­ing left-footed strike smashed the bar and he also had a free-kick chalked off on the hour for en­croach­ment in the wall.

The long-serv­ing Con­sta­ble took full ad­van­tage of Ox­ford’s re­prieve too, dou­bling the lead with a per­fectly-struck half-vol­ley a minute later.

Sub­sti­tute Chapell met Karl Haw­ley’s ball across the face of goal to pull one back on 70 min­utes with al­most his first touch.

But Hall wrapped up the win with 12 min­utes re­main­ing, side-foot­ing be­yond Martin Rice af­ter the keeper saved his ini­tial ef­fort.

The re­sult con­tin­ues Ox­ford’s fine start to the sea­son, with three wins out of three plac­ing them top of the pile ahead of Phil Brown’s Southend on goal dif­fer­ence.

Torquay boss Knill felt his side started promis­ingly against a team in Ox­ford he be­lieves could fig­ure in the pro­mo­tion reck­on­ing, but was dis­ap­pointed not to take some­thing out of the game.

He be­lieves the game is a good marker of what his side needs to do to move to­wards the top end of the ta­ble.

“It was a very dis­ap­point­ing re­sult in the end,” said the for­mer Scun­thorpe man­ager.

“You’ve just got to look at Ox­ford’s qual­ity.

“I thought it was an even game at the start – maybe we just shaded it – then in the sec­ond-half their qual­ity has out­shone ours re­ally. “I thought we com­peted pretty well. The con­di­tions were dif­fi­cult. If you look at them they’re ob­vi­ously a team that’s top of the league, while we’re a team try­ing to get to the top of the league.

“I thought it was a good test for us to see wherewe are but un­for­tu­nately sec­ond-half we’ve come up a

lit­tle short.”

PIC­TURES: Pin­na­cle

MOBBED: Ox­ford’s James Con­sta­ble has made it 2-0 FLAT OUT: Ox­ford’s Deane Smal­ley, on ground, gives them the lead

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