SEA­SIDE AIR SETS UP U’S FOR BIG WIN

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Mikael McKen­zie

BACK-TO-BACK away wins and a squad day out to Black­pool Plea­sure Beach – it has not been a bad week at work for Ox­ford boss Michael Ap­ple­ton.

His side leapfrogged Stan­ley and moved up to third place in the ta­ble with a hard-fought 3-1 vic­tory against the di­vi­sion’s in-form side.

Cal­lum O’Dowda gave Ox­ford the lead mid­way through the first half but Matt Crooks lev­elled 20 min­utes from time.

The visi­tors re­gained their lead when Liam Ser­combe turned the ball home from close-range be­fore the midfielder dou­bled his tally and sealed the three points from the spot three min­utes from time.

And Ap­ple­ton was beam­ing with de­light come full-time.

“We have had a great week,” he said. “There has been a lot of ca­ma­raderie be­tween the staff and play­ers.

“We have had a re­ally good week. It has been great on and off the field and two away vic­to­ries – it doesn’t get any bet­ter.

“It was a tough game.We fully ex­pected that.

“It was im­por­tant we got some­thing from the game. The way we started gave us the plat­form we wanted and we knew they would try and play out from the back.

“We got a goal ahead and I thought we fully de­served it and then I felt we should have put them away in the first ten min­utes of the sec­ond half.

“We al­most gave them a life­line. They got a bit of luck with the goal and for ten or 15 min­utes it was tough and fair play to them.

“They were fourth in the divi­son be­cause they are a half-de­cent side.”

Stan­ley fans were caught cel­e­brat­ing pre­ma­turely early in the first half when Josh Win­dass at­tempted to lob a stranded Sam Slo­combe from dis­tance but his ef­fort landed on the roof of the net.

And mo­ments later the visi­tors were ahead – O’Dowda fired through the legs of Mooney af­ter meet­ing Ke­mar Roofe’s cross from the left. Sean McConville missed a glar­ing chance to level a minute later when he di­rected Adam Bux­ton’s cross straight at Slo­combe.

The stop-start game rarely showed glimpses of a top-six en­counter but kicked into ac­tion in the sec­ond half when Mooney spilled sub­sti­tute Jor­dan Graham’s cross at the feet of O’Dowda but the midfielder shot straight against the ruck of bod­ies that rushed back onto the goal line.

And from the fol­low­ing cor­ner Roofe headed the ball past Mooney but Win­dass was in the right place at the right time to head clear.

Stan­ley weath­ered the U’s storm and drew level through Crooks’ 70thminute strike. The tow­er­ing midfielder notched his sec­ond in as many games with a de­flected ef­fort from the edge of the area which nes­tled in the top cor­ner.

The hosts should then have taken the lead when Billy Kee headed against the cross­bar from two yards out and Win­dass lifted the re­bound over the bar. Ox­ford re­gained their lead on the 79th minute as Ser­combe slammed home from close range fol­low­ing Graham’s mazy run and cross from the right.

Ser­combe dou­bled the lead with three min­utes to go from the penalty spot af­ter Wake­field fouled Roofe in the area.

Stan­ley boss John Coleman said: “We con­ceded the first and sec­ond goals when we were miles on top and that’s a prob­lem we must ad­dress.

“Peo­ple will go away think­ing that they are a good side and they are, but they are no bet­ter than us.

“We had the best chances. We missed three sit­ters.”

PIC­TURES: Richard Parkes

OPENER: Cal­lum O’Dowda wheels away af­ter scor­ing for Ox­ford

STOP IT IF YOU CAN: Liam Ser­combe scores from the spot for Ox­ford

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