BREWERS SOAR TO NEW HEIGHTS
JIMMY Floyd Hasselbaink hailed Burton Albion’s win over Oxford United as their best performance since he took charge.
Promotion-chasing Albion cruised to a dominant win with goals from man of the match Adam McGurk and Lucas Akins to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches.
“This is the best we have played,” said Hasselbank. “We were solid, had good discipline and this was a very professional display.
“Adam McGurk was excellent for us, he held the ball up well and was a problem for them.
“He followed through for his goal as any good striker does.
“We came out strong in the second half looking for the second goal, but it did not come.
“But we stayed professional and defended well.We defended well as a team, from the front and as a unit, and that is what you need in games like this.”
The win leaves the Brewers six points ahead of fourth-placed Luton, while struggling Oxford sit just four points above the drop zone after having won just once in their last eight matches.
Oxford boss Michael Appleton said his players must continue to believe in themselves as the relegation battle hots up.
“It was important that we got the first goal to bring Burton out,” he said.“Burton scored with their first chance and that did not help us.
“It is a 15-game season for us now and we have to keep our belief. I don’t know if it was a lack of confidence in the final third or not.
“We looked good when we took people on and got crosses in, but we did not create enough chances.
“We are not scoring enough and I hope that is preying on the strikers’ minds as it is their job to score.”
McGurk headed Burton ahead on 13 minutes after Ryan Clarke had parried Damien McCrory’s fierce effort into his path.
The home side survived a penalty shout soon after when Danny Hylton’s shot was blocked by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff’s arm at point- blank range.
Oxford should have levelled on 43 minutes when Johnny Mullins found space in the box before his effort was blocked by Phil Edwards with the goal at his mercy.
Josh Ashby fired wide following a flowing move on 47 minutes as the visitors came out fighting.
Hylton then cleared Cansdell-Sherriff’s strike off his own line a minute later, before Lucas Akins headed on to the roof of the net as Albion stepped up the pressure.
Oxford grew into the game and Hylton, who has scored 14 goals this season, fired an effort narrowly wide after Kemar Roofe picked him out on 75 minutes.
Ashby then cracked a fierce free-kick against the crossbar from 18 yards as the chances went begging for United. Burton finally wrapped up the victory when Akins coolly fired home under Clarke after Nasser El Khayati’s precise throughball on 89 minutes.
FLYING HIGH: Burton’s Adam McGurk leaps to head the opener
TAKE THE ACCLAIM: Lucas Akins celebrates after scoring Burton’s clincher