First-half goals from Eddie Anaclet and Mickey Corcoran - breaking his duck in senior football - and a late coup de grace from Marvin Robinson helped Oxford United re-establish themselves as the main, but distant, challengers to leaders Dagenham & Redbridge.

This was a very comfortable tenth away league win of the season, and a welcome return to form after successive home defeats.

The only thing that they will be disappointed with is that they didn't finish up as 5-0 or 6-0 winners, as they could easily have done.

The U's missed four simple chances to improve their goal difference, but at least they were back to looking a good unit, working hard for each other, and creating plenty of chances.

Anaclet struck his fourth goal in nine games when his deflected cross looped in, while Corcoran thumped home a header at a corner.

Robinson then nodded in No 3 with a minute to go, to reward his hard work.

It really should have been a bigger margin of victory, Robinson and Anaclet both failing to convert close-range headers when it looked easier to score than to miss, and then Yemi Odubade shooting straight at the keeper from a good position.

With Phil Gilchrist sidelined through injury, Jim Smith reverted to three at the back, using Corcoran and Luke Foster either side of the returning Barry Quinn.

Gavin Johnson was preferred to Rufus Brevett while Chris Hargreaves replaced Carl Pettefer in central midfield.

One surprise was that, with Billy Beechers not considered, the U's had no recognised striker on the bench.

Billy Turley struggled with a testing ball into the box in the second minute, but after that it was nearly all Oxford.

The impressive Odubade twice put good balls into the box, and the visitors should have made more of an opening when Martin Foster delivered an excellent cross from the right, with his left foot.

Good play by Anaclet and a first-time cross from Martin Foster brought United's first effort on goal, a glancing header from Danny Rose being blocked.

Odubade then worked some magic on the left to cut the ball back from the bye-line, and Robinson worked it across the goalmouth again, with Anaclet just unable to reach it.

The U's had survived one scare by then, their wall blocking out a free-kick from 16 yards after Turley picked up a back pass off Corcoran's knee.

But for the most part, Oxford had the ball, and even before he scored, Anaclet was looking the game's liveliest player.

Yet there was a large slice of fortune behind his 25th-minute opener.

He sent over a cross from the left, which took a deflection soon after leaving his boot to make the ball loop high into the air.

It then bounced over keeper Stuart Coburn and had crossed the line before Robinson, following in at the back post, made sure.

With the away fans in full voice, their team remained on top, bossing the game in midfield and producing some good moves.

Martin Foster struck a superb 25-yard shot that Coburn pushed around a post, and soon afterwards, the keeper tipped Rose's curling free-kick over the bar.

It was no more than United deserved when they scored a second goal in the 39th minute.

Rose delivered a perfect corner from the right and Corcoran, jumping incredibly high, powered home a header from just four yards out with the keeper floundering.

Three minutes later and it really should have been three. Odubade's delightful chipped cross picked out Robinson, who only needed to glance his header either side of Coburn, but instead nodded it on the full straight at the keeper.

The encouraging thing, from Oxford's point of view, however, was that they were getting people, and balls, into the box, with much more regularity than of late, and that continued in the second half, even though they were playing into the wind.

Five minutes after the break, Johnson hung up the perfect cross from the left bye-line and Anaclet, coming in at the far post, nodded it down but, astonishingly, wide from two yards out.

It continued to be almost one-way traffic and there was always the threat of further goals, especially with Altrincham goalkeeper Coburn looking dodgy on crosses and set pieces.

When Anaclet set up Odubade with a pass from the right, the striker had the chance to control and take on the keeper, but chose to shoot first-time and it was saved.

Altrincham had a brief spell of pressure near the end, and substitute Gary Talbot headed over eight minutes from time. But they finished well beaten.

And the scoreline took on a more realistic appearance when sub Andy Burgess centred from the left, his cross, taking a deflection on the way, and Robinson headed joyfully in for his first league goal for the club.

Moments later, and the big striker was set up by Carl Pettefer, who had just come on. This time the keeper made a sprawling save.

Once again, though, it had been another great chance. It was that kind of game.