GARY Waddock hailed an outstanding display from Oxford United as they bounced back into the play-off places with a 2-0 win at Plymouth Argyle.
It was a richly-deserved result for a side which had triumphed just once in their previous ten games.
Dave Kitson’s close-range finish opened the scoring before half-time and, after Max Blanchard was dismissed for two bookable offences, James Constable doubled the advantage with a ferocious strike.
It marked a transformation in quality from the U’s compared to recent games, and Waddock stressed it was a standard the players had to live up to over the final four games.
The head coach said: “Afterwards I said to them ‘you’re absolutely shattered, you’ve got to be like that after every single game’.
“You have to leave everything out on the pitch.
“Without a shadow of a doubt they’ve set the standard.
“That’s now their benchmark and they have to be close, if not better, than they’ve been here.
“If you put a performance in like that, you’ve got a chance of winning.
“We haven’t done that recently and before I came in we were on a poor run of games, so this should give them some confidence.
“Everyone to a man has performed.”
It was Waddock’s first win in charge after three successive defeats, but he preferred to deflect praise to the coaching staff and the 451 away fans who had made the long trip to Devon.
He said: “For our fans to come all the way down here and give us that support they were magnificent.
“They were vocal and I know for a fact the players responded to that.
“The staff have been excellent as well, we’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes.”
Kitson sent United on their way with a tap-in from close range in the 33rd minute.
It was his first goal in four months, but he singled out the contribution made by goalkeeper Ryan Clarke and marvelled at the shot with which Constable made it 2-0.
He said: “We created enough chances to win the game, but having said that, Clarkey made two of the best saves I’ve ever seen.
“Beano (Constable) was fantastic all game, he ran the channels and his shot was so hard – it was unbelievable how hard he hit the ball.”