The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Blair Fer­gu­son

MICHAEL Ap­ple­ton came into this game know­ing Ox­ford needed a re­ac­tion to their first home de­feat of the sea­son against Bar­net last week­end – and he was over­joyed his play­ers duly de­liv­ered with a five-star dis­play.

The U’s man­ager was treated to an em­phatic win at the Lamex Sta­dium against a Steve­nage side that fin­ished the game with nine men.

And al­though the game was full of in­ci­dent Ap­ple­ton said he was al­ways cer­tain of the win.

“Even if they had 12 men we would have won that game, I think we were that good,” he said.

“It was an­noy­ing to give the goal away but I thought Sam Slo­combe did well to re­com­pose him­self.

“When it was 2-1 we got a lit­tle bit sloppy in a three or four-minute pe­riod and they broke away and Sam had to save from Tom Pett, but that’s the only save he had to make in the game.

“The first five min­utes is ar­guably the best we’ve started this sea­son and we could have scored two or three in the first five min­utes be­cause we were that good.

“I’m ab­so­lutely de­lighted with how we went about our busi­ness.”

Ox­ford had a host of chances in the open­ing ten min­utes and their pres­sure fi­nally paid off when Jesse Joro­nen’s smart save fell to the feet of Ryan Tay­lor who sent it in through the keeper’s legs. Steve­nage got an undeserved life­line min­utes later when Sam Slo­combe’s poor clear­ance was lofted into the goal by Chris Whelp­dale from 40 yards out.

Ox­ford’s con­tin­ued pres­sure soon earned them a penalty but Liam Ser­combe – who was brought down for the spot kick by Dean Par­rett – saw his ef­fort ex­cel­lently saved by Joro­nen. The good work of Joro­nen was un­done when Jamie McCombe saw red af­ter bring­ing down Danny Hyl­ton in the box al­low­ing Ser­combe to make amends and give his side the lead.

The send­ing off of Michael Tonge in the sec­ond half was the cat­a­lyst for fur­ther goals and Alex MacDon­ald got the third shortly af­ter the dis­missal, be­fore Tay­lor grabbed his sec­ond and the highly im­pres­sive Ke­mar Roofe added a fifth.

The loss sees Steve­nage strug­gling near the bot­tom end of the ta­ble with one win from their last eight league games.

And though the pres­sure is start­ing to build on boss Teddy Sher­ing­ham, the ex-Spurs striker re­mains de­fi­ant.

“With­out a doubt,” he said, when asked if he was the man for the job.

“It looks hu­mil­i­at­ing, but if you go down to nine men it’s a tough game and it looks like we’re all over the place.

“But the dam­age was done in the first 20 min­utes and we need to put that right and then we can com­pete in games.

“I didn’t think the first half was well com­peted, I think Ox­ford com­peted well and it was amaz­ing that we were still in the game to be hon­est, it wasn’t good enough and that’s down to me.”



Ox­ford KNEESY DOES IT: Alex MacDon­ald cel­e­brates the third goal In­set: Liam Ser­combe dou­bles Ox­ford United’s lead

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