SUPER SUBS KEEP THE U’S ON TOP
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
MOBBED: Oxford’s James Constable has made it 2-0 FLAT OUT: Oxford’s Deane Smalley, on ground, gives them the lead