New-boy Vassell does the business
KYLE Vassell struck the winner five minutes into his debut to show why his manager Michael Appleton had brought him in as Oxford United took a big step towards survival against Carlisle.
Vassell only joined the U’s on loan from Peterborough on Thursday but he made himself an instant hero at the Kassam Stadium to lift his new club eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Carlisle, however, are still nervously looking over their shoulders with seven games left, with only a three-point gap separating them and second-frombottom Tranmere.
Appleton said: “We've found ourselves in a position this year where we’ve done too much transfer business, there’s no hiding from that.
“We felt it had to be done but thankfully one has come off the bench here and he’s scored that goal but he looked a threat on a couple of other occasions as well.
“If he gets one or two more like that between now and the end of the season then obviously we’ll be looking forward to what hopefully will be a different campaign.
“The over-riding emotion is delight because I felt they thoroughly deserved it for the way they played.”
Carlisle took the lead after nine minutes despite being under the cosh early on as Paul Corry’s deep free-kick managed to evade everyone and bounce in via the underside of the bar.
Danny Rose then had a shot deflected on to the bar but Oxford did draw level when Kemar Roofe powered down the left wing before swinging in a cross that Patrick Hoban headed in for his first goal for the club.
Carlisle were reduced to ten men with a quarter of the game left after Troy Archibald-Henville picked up two yellow cards in the space of two minutes.
The U’s finally went in front when Roofe’s chipped pass aimed at Danny Hylton was headed out to Vassell, who arrowed a bullet of a shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
Carlisle boss Keith Curle kept his players in the changing room for an hour after the game but denied reading the riot act to them.
Curle said: “I’m not the type of manager that just throws teacups or says things for the sake of saying things to make themselves feel better.
“I always give information and thoughts but I do it in the right way.
“The players know that I’m not happy – this was a game where we had to do the ugly side of the game first and foremost and then get a foothold in the game and be more expansive then.
“If you don’t do the first then you don’t get to do the second.”