The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Tim Smith

IF MICKEY Lewis takes over the reins at Ox­ford on a per­ma­nent ba­sis, one in­gre­di­ent that won’t be lack­ing at the Kas­sam Sta­dium is at­tack­ing foot­ball.

Birth­day boy Lewis threw cau­tion to the wind in se­lect­ing four strik­ers against Mans­field and his gam­ble paid off, two of them in David Con­nolly and Deane Smal­ley fin­ish­ing off smart moves ei­ther side of Nicky Wroe’s sec­ond-half thun­der­bolt.

The U’s have gone un­beaten in five since Chris Wilder left for Northamp­ton Town last month and though Lewis re­fused to be drawn into ques­tions over his fu­ture, he ad­mits the play­ers are buy­ing into his phi­los­o­phy.

“I was try­ing to keep my birth­day quiet but there’s not much chance of that – the three points were great,” he said.

“Ryan (Clarke) made a cou­ple of great saves but in the sec­ond half we’ve gone on won those sec­ond balls a bit more.

“All the goals were ex­cel­lent. We thought we’d go with four for­wards to win the game and we’re pleased with the re­sult.

“We all talked about it and thought, ‘let’s go and win the game’. We played Smal­ley a lit­tle deeper while we had (James) Con­sta­ble, (Dave) Kit­son and Con­nolly but we rode our luck a lit­tle bit and could have gone a goal down.

“But the play­ers have all got a goal in them and the third goal showed our qual­ity across the team and hope­fully we can keep play­ing like that.”

U’s keeper Ryan Clarke con­tin­ued to prove why he was named League Two Player of the Month for Jan­uary, his light­ning re­ac­tions twice deny­ing Clu­cas early on.

His hero­ics gave Ox­ford the plat­form to take the lead as Con­nolly shrugged off close at­ten­tion to spin and fire home.

The vis­i­tors were breached again early in the sec­ond half and in fine fash­ion, mid­fielder Wroe cut­ting in­side and send­ing a rocket into the top cor­ner.

Con­nolly and Con­sta­ble were also con­tin­u­ing to cause havoc and when the lat­ter hit the post in the 68th minute, Smal­ley was at hand to tap in and wrap up vic­tory.

And while Ox­ford are burst­ing at the seams with strik­ers, Stags man­ager Paul Cox ad­mits it is the one depart­ment his side are sorely lack­ing in.

He said:“We have been say­ing it for a long time now, we just need that ex­tra body, that lit­tle bit more qual­ity which will help play­ers like Sam (Clu­cas), (Matt) Rhead be­come bet­ter. We have been cry­ing out for one for five or six weeks.

“We had enough chances to win three foot­ball matches and even though we passed the ball very well, we should have been giv­ing their goal­keeper no chance with some of the op­por­tu­ni­ties we had.

“Ox­ford are in a dif­fer­ent place to us, they’re go­ing for the top three and they’ve got the knowhow. This is a mas­sive learn­ing curve for us and they are one of the bench­marks. I think we were the best side for the ma­jor­ity

of the game.”

OX­FORD: (4-3-3): Clarke 8, Be­vans 7, Hunt 7, Mullins 7, Newey 8, Wroe 8, Rose 7, Smal­ley 7, Kit­son 6, Con­nolly (Wil­liams 78 6) 8, Con­sta­ble 7 (Pot­ter N/A 90) Subs not used: Marsh, Long, O’ Dowda, Ruf­fels, Henly

MANS­FIELD: (3-4-1-2): Mar­riott 7, West­lake 6, Jen­nings 5 (Daniel 17 7), Tafa­zolli 6, Demp­ster 5, Ri­ley 4 (McGuire 45 5), Cle­ments 5, How­ell 5 (Palmer 83 6), Rhead 6, Clu­cas 7, Steven­son 6

Subs not used: Deakin, Sut­ton, Hutchin­son, Meikle

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

STRIKE: Nicky Wroe tees up his shot and scores for Ox­ford United ON TAR­GET: Dave Con­nolly scores for Ox­ford United STAR MAN RYAN CLARK

E Ox­ford


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