Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us
Oxford United 2 (Rose 33, Mullins 80) Bury 1 (Soares 70)
SET pieces proved key for Oxford United as goals from Danny Rose and Johnny Mullins saw off a rugged Bury to go top of Sky Bet League Two.
Rose curled in a beautiful free-kick from 25 yards to give the hosts a slender lead at the break.
But Bury hit back in the second half and there was little surprise when they drew level, through Tom Soares.
Being pegged back stirred United into action and with ten minutes remaining a free-kick routine was finished by Mullins.
Bury's hopes of finding a response were hit before the game restarted, with Nathan Cameron receiving a second yellow card in quick succession.
As expected, U's boss Chris Wilder reversed the four changes from the midweek cup defeat at Charlton Athletic.
Deane Smalley and Dave Kitson resumed their strike partnership, while wingers Alfie Potter and Sean Rigg lined up on the flanks to give United the same XI which started the 4-1 win at Portsmouth a week earlier.
The wide men combined to carve Bury open inside five minutes. Rigg played in Potter, who was unable to make a clean connection under pressure, allowing goalkeeper Rob Lainton to make a simple save.
Potter then laid on a chance, via a Kitson dummy, for Rigg, who was unable to stretch the Shakers goalkeeper.
Bury's main attacking threat came from set pieces, with seven corners won before the break.
United largely defended well, although they needed vital blocks from Danny Rose and Tom Newey to snuff out chances for John Rooney and Craig Jones respectively.
The hosts looked dangerous going forward, but were unable to build a spell of sustained pressure.
They did have success on the break, with Smalley playing in Rigg for a good chance on 26 minutes. The winger opted to let fly from outside the box with an effort which Lainton only dealt with at the second attempt.
The breakthrough came just after the half hour mark, when Smalley was fouled 25 yards from goal.
It was dead centre and the wall did not look the full ten yards, but Rose stepped up and whipped the free-kick into the corner of the net.
Bury stuck to their game plan and thought they had drawn level in stoppage time.
Andrew Procter steered a superb volley past Ryan Clarke and into the net, only to look up and see an offside flag.
The visitors grasped the initiative after the break as United were unable to hold on to the ball.
It led to a tense passage of play, as Bury won yet more set pieces.
One cross was poorly cleared by Newey straight to Rooney. The striker had space in the area, but he was unable to test Clarke with a shot at the near post.
There was a lengthy stoppage when Kitson and Richards Hinds clashed heads, which appeared to take the sting out of the game.
But with 20 minutes remaining Bury drew level.
United's defence failed to deal with a ball forward and Euan Holden got the better of Jake Wright to cross and give Soares a tap-in.
Stung by conceding, the hosts almost went ahead within a minute.
Newey got forward and crossed for Kitson to head downwards. The striker thought he had a first goal in yellow, but Lainton magnificently clawed it out one-handed.
United were reinvigorated, though, and with ten minutes left they did retake the lead.
Smalley won a free-kick down by the corner flag, for which Cameron was booked.
Straight from the training ground, David Hunt drilled the free-kick low for Mullins to lash in from ten yards.
As United celebrated, Cameron received his second booking in the space of a minute for dissent.
The home side made the most of the man advantage in the closing stages, although they had to survive six minutes of stoppage time before celebrating victory.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Hunt, Mullins, Wright, Newey, Potter, Whing, Rose, Rigg (Hall 90), Kitson (Constable 86), Smalley (Davies 90).
Unused subs: Crocombe, Ruffels, Raynes, Williams.
Bury: Lainton, Beeley, Hinds, Cameron, Roberts, Jones, Procter, Holden, Soares (Jackson 85), Harrad (Forrester 62), Rooney (Sinnott 63).
Unused subs: Charles-Cook, Grimes, Sedgwick, Lockwood.
Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight).
Attendance: 5,774 (341 visitors).
Comments are closed on this article.