TOON TARGET WINS IT LATE ON
MICHAEL APPLETON heralded his Oxford United charges after they maintained their hunt for promotion with a gritty win against a courageous Dagenham in a tight encounter. Kemar Roofe ensured Oxford remained second in League Two when he smashed home a 20-yard free-kick late on to extend their unbeaten away record to five games.
Oxford manager Appleton said: “As away wins go, this is even better than our last one at Stevenage. It was always going to be a day of fine margins and in difficult conditions.
“But I thought we defended well when we had to in certain periods of the game.You ask the players to produce a piece of magic every now and again to get you the points you want and deserve, and we got that today.
“Kemar is in a good place at the moment, he is enjoying his football and getting better and better. Today he stuck to his task and got his just rewards.
“Once you get to around February or March if you’re still up at the top of table, you’re there by merit. We’ve got a lot of games to go yet.”
The Oxford threat was evident from the off, Danny Hylton a constant nuisance for the Dagenham defence.
Yet they were unable to make the most of their early advantage and the hosts responded well, captain Joss Labadie going close on ten minutes with a thunderous, long-distance strike that Benjamin Buchel managed to push over the crossbar.
The visitors enjoyed possession in what was a hectic opening half, but were frustrated by the Dagenham backline.
Confidence grew for the Daggers and they began to press forward, with experienced striker Jamie Cureton missing two excellent opportunities to put them into the lead.
Oxford came out whipped up after the break, pushing hard to break the deadlock.
Hylton had a penalty shout turned down before Roofe went close with a shot from outside the area and then saw a fine effort ricochet off the crossbar.
The Newcastle-watched midfielder had been quiet but secured Oxford the win with an exquisite set piece finish on 85 minutes.
Substitute Callum O’Dowda was fouled just outside the Dagenham area and 22-year-old Roofe made no mistake curling the ball into the left-hand corner to notch his 11th goal of the season.
Dagenham assistant manager, Darren Currie, said: “It was a great performance that type of performance will get us out of the situation we’re currently in. We’re very pleased with how we played, although obviously the result is disappointing.
“Goals change games and we’ve had opportunities to score and maybe if we’d got one, the way we were playing, we might have gone on to win the game.
“On today’s performance you didn’t realise who was top and bottom – you couldn’t split the two teams. We’re disappointed with the result, but if we continue to play like that, it won’t be long until we’re out of trouble.”
RAISE THE ROOFE: Kemar Roofe – a target for Newcastle – was in fine form once again