MICHAEL Appleton was thrilled with the way Oxford United handled AFC Wimbledon's direct approach to claim a vital three points.
Jordan Bowery's classy solo effort sealed a 2-1 win for the U's, after Danny Hylton's early goal had been cancelled out by a tap-in from Andy Barcham.
With Accrington Stanley dropping points at home to Barnet, the result saw United consolidate their position in the Sky Bet League Two automatic promotion places.
Their advantage is now five points, although the result only came after a physical battle against a home side who looked to get the ball forward quickly.
- Oxford United young gun Malachi Napa has career immortalised in a comic strip by West Ham
- More details on OxVox stadium bid - but talks 'on hold' due to U's takeover interest
- Liam Sercombe a step closer to Oxford United departure
- Oxford United give Conor McAleny deadline on contract offer
- Dealing with Firoz Kassam has been a weakness of mine, admits Oxford United chairman Darryl Eales
Appleton, United's head coach, was happy to come out on top against an awkward opponent who came into the game in great form.
He said: "It wasn't a game for football, it was about the three points against a side who have won seven of the last eight games, so they couldn't be taken lightly.
"It was difficult, the pitch was diffcult, the style we had to cope with was difficult.
"One way or another we did it and I'm delighted."
Appleton was forced to make a change in midfield, as Josh Ruffels came in for John Lundstram, who missed a league game for the first time since September.
The former Everton youngster sustained an ankle injury late in Tuesday's 4-1 win at Exeter City and was not fit to play, although the problem is not thought to be serious.
The U's boss said: "John picked up a knock in the game on Tuesday, just above his ankle.
"We gave him a few days to recuperate.
"He joined in training on Friday and he broke down a little bit.
"It's nothing serious, he had it X-rayed and there's no breaks or anything.
"It's a lot of bad bruising, so it's very difficult for him passing the ball.
"This was not the day to take a risk on someone like John Lundstram."
- The Oxford Mail now has a dedicated Facebook page for all our Oxford United coverage. Like us at facebook.com/oxfordmailoufc/