AP­PLE­TON DE­LIGHT AT TOP SPOT

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Thomas Hannah

OX­FORD UNITED took over top spot in League Two – and on the run of form they are presently en­joy­ing, it’s hard to see them slip­ping up.

Danny Hyl­ton’s goal was the dif­fer­ence be­tween two com­pet­i­tive sides at Vic­to­ria Park, and it means the Us have lost only one game in 17.

Plymouth’s draw at Da­gen­ham means Michael Ap­ple­ton’s side lead the ta­ble on goal dif­fer­ence.

But they showed plenty of qual­i­ties at Vic­to­ria Park which will put them in good stead in the com­ing weeks and months.

In ap­palling con­di­tions, the Us also had to weather a first-half Pools on­slaught as Ron­nie Moore’s side played with a real drive and de­ter­mi­na­tion.

But some harsh words at the break from Ap­ple­ton had the de­sired im­pact.

The Ox­ford boss said:“We weren’t at our best, cer­tainly in the first-half. I wasn’t happy at half-time and told them that.

“I felt we were a lit­tle bit be­hind it and at Hartle­pool, a dif­fi­cult place to come, with the crowd right be­hind them in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions, you can’t let it hap­pen and be slightly off it.

“We had words and I felt sec­ond­half we were much bet­ter and could have put the game to bed be­fore we did.

“Danny’s fin­ish was very good and Alex MacDonald did very well on the right, he was a bit of a cat­a­lyst for us sec­ond-half, ev­ery­thing he did was pos­i­tive.’’

The goal, Hyl­ton’s fifth of the sea­son, came af­ter he was in­tro­duced as a sub­sti­tute on 62 min­utes.

From a Pools cor­ner, MacDonald picked up the ball on the right and drove for­ward, with the home de­fence un­able to con­tain him.

The winger picked out Hyl­ton with a de­light­ful ball into the area and his fin­ish was crisp across goal­keeper Trevor Car­son.

Ap­ple­ton added:“You have to show char­ac­ter and do the right things at Hartle­pool if you want to be suc­cess­ful and we showed that.

“Away from home we have had to dig in at times and we did that for a pe­riod, but sec­ond-half we were more com­posed and cre­ated chances.’’

Pools had two great chances, first when Jake Gray chested the ball down and volleyed against the cross­bar, and then when Mikael Man­dron was in on goal, but put his fin­ish too close to keeper Ben­jamin Buchel.

Boss Ron­nie Moore said:“The firsthalf was as good as it’s been since I’ve been here.

“We had half-chances and on an­other day it goes in, but against top of the league then one lapse and it costs you.

“It comes from our cor­ner, too easy. Put the winger down the line and don’t let him in­side and cross and put it where he wants to and Hyl­ton isn’t go­ing to miss from there.

“At 0-0 we had the most im­por­tant chance, a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity.”

PIC­TURES: Im­age

DANNY BOY: Danny Hyl­ton of Ox­ford United cel­e­brates with Joe Skarz and Pat Hoban af­ter scor­ingMe­dia

PASS IT ON: Michael Duck­worth spreads the ball

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