MICHAEL Appleton hailed Oxford United's defence for its role in one of their best results of the season.

Jordan Bowery came off the bench to make the difference, netting from 25 yards to claim a 1-0 win at Portsmouth.

But the three points were only secured thanks to magnificent displays at the back, particularly from centre halves Jake Wright and Johnny Mullins.

They ensured while Pompey had plenty of pressure, U's goalkeeper Sam Slocombe was not stretched on the way to a crucial victory.

It was an impressive result following on from last Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Bristol Rovers and eased them clear of the teams outside Sky Bet League Two's automatic promotion places.

Appleton said: "I think the result is absolutely right up there, no doubt about it.

"Just because it came after a defeat which was more frustration because we were so good on the day.

"I'd like to think this makes up for it.

"The centre backs did ever so well.

"Pompey only play one up top but what they have to do from a concentration point of view is be aware of what's around them and the running off the ball.

"The type of pressure they put on us is not the type which they're going to get goals from most weeks.

"Look at some of the better performances they've had, Portsmouth have opened teams up and passed the ball, whereas they don't get many goals from deep crosses, which we forced them to do."

Mullins was thrilled with the way United handled the game, in contrast to what happened after they took the lead against Rovers.

He said: "We spoke after the Rovers game of managing the game better after going 1-0 up.

"I thought we did that.

"They were relentless, but we always felt with the players we have going forward one pass could cause them problems."