TOON TAR­GET WINS IT LATE ON

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Fran­cis Kelly

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

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