OXFORD United will aim to catch runaway leaders Northampton Town if they can go clear in second with a win at Plymouth Argyle, head coach Michael Appleton has vowed.

The U’s climbed above tomorrow’s hosts on goal difference after midweek results went their way.

Given the eight-point gap to nearest challengers Accrington Stanley, the sides are well-fancied to meet again in Sky Bet League One next season.

But if the visitors are able to win a fourth straight league game for the first time under Appleton, they do not intend to waste time looking over their shoulder.

The U’s boss thinks being in second place will make a difference to his players and if they can stay there the focus will change to bridging the 11-point gap to Northampton.

He said: “We’re only looking up at one team at the minute, but if we get the result we want on Saturday then the gap might be smaller.

“You’ve got to believe you can chase the next team ahead of you.

“Three points on Saturday would go a massive way to thinking we can get anywhere close to Northampton.

“But if we do win on Saturday I can assure you that will be the sole thing in our mind – to try and chase Northampton down.”

United arrive in Devon full of confidence after rattling off three successive victories in eight days, scoring ten goals in the process.

It could not have been better timed, following their first back-to-back defeats for almost a year.

Appleton reckons the results since then will have been devastating for the clutch of sides with ambitions to claim automatic promotion.

He said: “I’m sure after we lost to Accrington there would have been one or two teams thinking ‘they’re going to have a wobble now’.

“For us to pick up nine points in seven days would have absolutely smashed the wind out of some of the teams around us.”

Despite their good position, Plymouth have won just one of their last four games and go into the game under more pressure than their visitors.

Appleton sees similarities with United’s position a fortnight ago.

He said: “It will be tough because they will be wounded animals.

“They are probably getting a bit of stick, like we did after the Accrington game, and they will want to put that right in a big way.

“The good thing from my point of view is our away form is fantastic.

“I have a belief in the players to go and put in another performance.”