GARY’S REIGN IS ON THE UP
OXFORD United got their promotion bid back on track with their first win under the reign of Gary Waddock and their new boss wants this performance to be the benchmark for the season run in.
Goals from Dave Kitson and James Constable – the U’s first under Waddock – were enough to secure a victory over a Plymouth side that was reduced to ten men following the second half dismissal of Maxime Blanchard, that takes Oxford back into the playoff spots.
“I am pleased with the performance and we backed it up with the result; I am delighted with that and we got two very good goals,” said Waddock.
“We looked a threat going forward, we got two goals and a clean sheet and the keeper has made two really important saves for us.
“Even when it was 11 vs 11, I still think we created a lot chances.
“We have had an horrendous run, some real poor results and we dropped out of the play-offs last week
“but if we perform like we did here we have given ourselves a chance; if we don’t we’ll drop out of it again.”
Oxford dominated the opening stages with the pick of their chances falling to Nicky Wroe in the 26th minute when he had a shot from inside the penalty area turned behind by Argyle keeper Jake Cole.
Their persistence paid off on 33 minutes when Kitson volleyed home after Ryan Williams headed a Joshua Ruffels free-kick back across goal.
Argyle’s best chance of the half came in the 44th minute when Nathan Thomas had a header tipped away by Oxford keeper Ryan Clarke before Reuben Reid was denied from the rebound by U’s defender Michael Raynes.
Early in the second half, the Pilgrims were reduced to ten men when Blanchard was dismissed when he received a second yellow card for a careless challenge on Kitson on 49 minutes.
Wroe nearly added a second for the visitors in the 53rd minute when he rattled the woodwork with a shot from the edge of the penalty area.
The Pilgrims were denied an equaliser a minute later when Clarke produced a stunning reflex stop to deny Curtis Nelson, after the Argyle defender rose highest to connect with a cross from Andres Gurrieri.
Oxford doubled their advantage on 63 minutes when Constable fired home a 20-yard screamer to seal the win and deal a blow to the Pilgrims’ Play-Off aspirations, much to the disappointment of boss John Sheridan.
“It was very poor, when you think it was a big game, and we were really flat,” said Sheridan.
“I’ve got no qualms about the result, they were better than us.We kept the same players, but we didn’t keep the same perform- ance; we are at home with the best pitch in the league and we can’t put two passes together. We’ve done all right this season, but just all right is no good to me.”
STAR MAN NICKY WROE Oxford OPENER: Oxford's Dave Kitson celebrates putting the visitors ahead. Inset: Kitson scores