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Oxford Utd 3, Mansfield Town 0 + match highlights video
Three outstanding goals saw Oxford United claim an emphatic victory over Mansfield Town today and stay in the Sky Bet League Two automatic promotion places.
David Connolly and Nicky Wroe scored superb individual efforts, and Deane Smalley converted after a fabulous team move as Mickey Lewis made it nine points from five games as caretaker manager.
And in a match that was badly hampered by the strong wind, United showed several different sides to their game to pick up the three points.
For the first half it was largely backs against the wall affair as Mansfield, with the breeze at their back, pinned the U's in their own half.
However, United went into half-time ahead when on 27 minutes, Connolly controlled a Tom Newey pass eight yards out before turning and firing home.
Wroe doubled the lead on 53 minutes when unleashing a powerful drive from 25 yards that whistled into the top corner.
And Smalley ensured the win when he was on hand to tap in after great play between James Constable and Connolly saw Constable's shot come back off a post for Smalley to tap home.
It was a great victory for United, but several others played a big part in the win, with goalkeeper Ryan Clarke making one outstanding first-half stop, and twice young full back Matt Bevans threw himself in front of shots to make blocks.
Lewis made one change to the side that drew 1-1 at Bristol Rovers with Connolly making his first start and Josh Ruffels dropping to the bench.
It saw United line up with an attacking 4-2-1-3 formation, with Dave Kitson playing behind Smalley, Connolly and Constable.
It was a scrappy opening, with the wind instantly having am impact with United penned into the half.
Johnny Mullins slipped in the sixth minute, but despite Sam Clucas breaking clear, the visitors could not find the killer pass and the chance was wasted.
The game's first shot came in the tenth minute when Kitson latched onto a Newey pass, but blasted his shot high and wide.
United were really struggling to get out of their half and Ryan Clarke had to make the game's first save, getting down low to keep out Sam Clucas's shot.
David Hunt then received treatment after blocking one of two goalbound efforts as the visitors threatened.
Moments later, Clarke made a stunning stop to keep his side level, making a sensational reflex save to deny Clucas, who was only eight yards out.
The home fans were unsettled with the amount of attacks Mansfield were launching, the conditions blowing them forward.
However, against the run of play a moment of magic put Oxford in front.
Constable laid the ball off to Newey, whose cross found its way to Connolly eight yards out.
The striker had his back to goal, but the ball stuck to him like glue, and when he had twisted his body this way and that, he got in a left-foot shot that trickled into the corner of the net.
Clucas was the visitors' main threat, and Matt Bevans throw himself in front of another shot by the striker to block well.
Constable then tried his luck from 25 yards out, his vicious half-volley forcing Alan Marriott into a fine diving save to his right.
Mansfield were still on top, but United's defence stood firm against wave after wave of attacks to see out the opening period.
Both sides started the second half well, but just eight minutes in Wroe doubled Oxford's lead with a stunning strike.
Picking the ball up 25 yards from goal, the on-loan midfielder drove in a rasping shot that flew into the top corner of the net.
It was the perfect beginning to the second period, but Mansfield wasted little time in looking for an equaliser.
Bevans threw himself in the way of one shot, and went down with the force of the shot.
The visitors played on, however, and Clarke was forced to dive to his right to keep out Rhead's effort.
A Ryan Tafazolli header then went straight at the U's keeper as the visitors kept pushing forward.
However, Oxford were playing some lovely football. Bevans joining in one attack as several one-twos left the Mansfield defence spinning.
On 68 minutes the U's made it 3-0 with a delightful goal.
Constable and Connolly linked well, and when Constable's effort came back off the inside of a post, Smalley couldn't miss from six yards.
The home fans were in full voice and United grew in confidence so much so that Smalley tried his luck with an ambitious 35-yard effort minutes later.
Clarke was forced to make a couple of regulation saves, as United began to see out time without undue alarm.
Ryan Williams and Alfie Potter made late appearances as substitutes on a day when everyone left the Kassam Stadium with huge smiles on their faces.
Oxford Utd 4-2-3-1: Clarke, Bevans, Hunt, Mullins, Newey, Wroe, Rose, Smalley, Kitson, Connolly (Williams 77), Constable (Potter 90). Subs: Henly, Marsh, Long, O'Dowda, Ruffels. Booked: Kitson.
Mansfield 3-5-2: Marriott, Riley (McGuire HT), Dempster, Tafazolli, Westlake, Howell (Palmer 84), Stevenson, Clements, Jennings (Daniel 17), Rhead, Clucas. Subs: Deakin, Sutton, Hutchinson, Meikle, Palmer. Booked: Maguire, Howell, Rhead.
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