Lewis praises players' focus

Mickey Lewis and Chris Wilder discuss tactics on Saturday

Mickey Lewis and Chris Wilder discuss tactics on Saturday

First published in Headlines Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Reporter covering Oxford United. Follow us on twitter: @oxfordmailoufc. Call me on 01865 425458

Mickey Lewis praised the attitude of Oxford United’s players as they put aside distractions over Chris Wilder’s future to beat Torquay United.

Deane Smalley’s eighth goal of the season was enough to claim a 1-0 win – only their fifth league success at the Kassam Stadium this season.

It ensured a positive result in what proved Wilder’s final game in charge.

Lewis spoke to the media before being appointed as caretaker boss and while there was obvious confusion over what was going to happen, he was delighted with the side’s application.

“In all honesty I don’t know anything that’s going on at the moment,” he said.

“We haven’t talked about anything apart from trying to win the game against Torquay.

“The manager himself has been no different, everything has been as we prepare for every game and I thought the players’ attitudes were first class.”

He added: “We had a couple of chances to make it 2-0 in the first half.

“There were opportunities in good areas in the second half where we didn’t quite get the final ball in.

“Deane Smalley did ever so well once in the second half when the ball got cleared off the line, which would have sealed the game.

“But there are a lot of games throughout the season where you just have to dig in and just win a lot of tackles and headers, especially on days like this.”

Smalley has been struggling for form in recent weeks and had not scored from open play in almost three months.

Lewis has his fingers crossed a return to the score sheet will kick the 25-year-old back into gear for the rest of the campaign.

He said: “Hopefully, it will give him that confidence to kick on.

“We all know what he’s got – he has ability and pace.

“He has got a lot of attributes and hopefully that goal and a good performance will give him the confidence to push on until the end of the season.”

The win was only secured late on, when Jake Wright headed off the line under pressure.

There was immediate concern for the U’s skipper, who was stretchered off with a leg injury and taken to hospital Lewis did not believe it was serious, but admitted it could rule the centre back out of tomorrow’s trip to Exeter City.

He said: “It was a fantastic clearance and a definite free-kick on him, it shouldn’t have been a corner.

“He showed real desire to go and make sure we got the three points.

“He wasn’t rolling around in agony or anything, but who knows.

“From what I first saw he was sat in the dressing room talking. “You would say that as he had to come off, he’s obviously going to be a doubt for Tuesday.”

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