The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Sam Con­way

IT WASN’T pretty, but Michael Ap­pIe­ton la­belled pro­mo­tion­chas­ing Ox­ford’s win over Wim­ble­don as their best of the sea­son so far as Ge­orge Bal­dock struck late.

With five vic­to­ries un­der their belt from the open­ing 11 games, de­fender Bal­dock broke the dead­lock and se­cured vic­tory ten min­utes from time.

The three points moved the U’s up to third, level on points with Portsmouth and Ply­mouth at the top of League Two.

“Some of the fans will dis­agree with me, but I think that’s our big­gest win so far this sea­son, with­out a shadow of a doubt,” said Ap­ple­ton.

“It was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult, par­tic­u­larly against a team who are re­ally awk­ward to play against.

“We’re all ab­so­lutely de­lighted with the three points. The play­ers are go­ing to get a well-earned cou­ple of days’ rest.”

Be­fore the match, a minute’s si­lence was held in mem­ory of 16year-old Ben Roberts, the brother of Ox­ford striker James Roberts, who died in a car ac­ci­dent the pre­vi­ous week­end.

And Ap­ple­ton added: “He knows that we’re here for him. I had a chat with him on Thurs­day.

“We spoke about when he might come back and we’ll soon see when that hap­pens.

“When things like that hap­pen, the play­ers re­ally get be­hind each other. Ev­ery­one at the club has been re­ally re­spect­ful and I think James and his fam­ily ap­pre­ci­ate that.”

The visi­tors had never beaten Ox­ford, los­ing six of their eight meet­ings, but they started the strong­est, with Ade­bayo Azeez forc­ing Sam Slo­combe into a great one-handed save af­ter seven min­utes.

Wim­ble­don were then dealt a blow as cen­tre-back Semi Ajayi, on loan from Cardiff, was forced off with a head in­jury.

Ox­ford’s first real chance of the match came af­ter half an hour through Danny Hyl­ton, whose closerange header was tipped over by James Shea.

The home side also felt they should have had a penalty five min­utes be­fore half-time when Hyl­ton ap­peared to be bun­dled over by sub­sti­tute Kar­leigh Os­borne.

Ox­ford came within a whisker of go­ing in front on 52 min­utes as Liam Ser­combe’s fe­ro­cious strike came back off the cross­bar.

The lively Jor­dan Graham then pro­duced a great cross which was just scram­bled away by Os­borne.

At the other end, Lyle Tay­lor’s flick-on fell to sub­sti­tute Ade­bayo Ak­in­fenwa, who lobbed the ball over from six yards out.

For­mer U’s midfielder Dan­nie Bul­man then saw his 20-yard strike fizz just over the bar.

As with the pre­vi­ous two meet­ings be­tween these sides, this game seemed des­tined for a goal­less draw.

But, with ten min­utes re­main­ing, Ox­ford made the break­through as right-back Bal­dock surged for­wards and un­leashed a bril­liant 25-yard strike which went in off Shea’s right-hand post.

Wim­ble­don boss Neal Ard­ley said: “I didn’t think we were great. I didn’t think we had enough belief in our play.We didn’t re­ally open them up enough and cre­ate enough.

“The goal was a noth­ing goal. Fair play to him for the strike, but I would ex­pect James Shea to save that. It’s a dis­ap­point­ing way to lose the game, but I didn’t think we did enough to win.

“If we’d have come away with a point, I would have said that was a good point, but in­stead we’ve lost a scrappy game 1-0. The ini­tial thought on Semi was that he had bro­ken his nose. Blood kept pour­ing out and he was a lit­tle bit dazed.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

NO WAY PAST: Ox­ford’s Jake Wright and AFC Wim­ble­don’s Tom El­liott in ac­tion

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