Yemi Odubade and Luke Foster struck a goal apiece to send Oxford United into the play-offs for the first time in the club's history.

But the U's made hard work of it at bottom club St Albans on Saturday.

It should have been a stroll in the park, and was in the first half when Jim Smith's men totally ran the game.

But all they had to show for their complete dominance was Odubade's 26th-minute strike - his 11th goal of the season - despite creating five or six other good openings.

And in the second half they seemed to be half-asleep in the sun as St Albans came back at them.

Odubade made his goal with his blistering pace. Barry Quinn's long ball was flicked on by Chris Zebroski and the lightning-quick striker raced through on the left.

Goalkeeper Paul Bastock saved his first shot well, but the rebound fell kindly and Odubade side-footed home into an empty net.

It wasn't easy on a very bobbly pitch, but United should still have got a second goal to give themselves breathing space.

For the second Saturday running, though, they came up against a keeper in fine form, in ex-Boston United stopper Bastock.

Clarence Park is a wonderful setting and it requires a walk through the park to get to the tree-lined football ground.

It is very picturesque in springtime, but you had to pinch yourself that Oxford United were playing a league game here.

The massive travelling support for Oxford filled two and a half sides of the ground. It was the largest away gathering seen at St Albans since the Romans arrived, and certainly dwarfed the number nearby Stevenage brought for their local derby this season.

Smith rested Andy Burgess, Rob Duffy and Eddie Anaclet, giving Matt Day a run-out at right wingback and recalling Carl Pettefer into central midfield.

Pettefer was involved in much of the early play as Oxford, playing in all white, immediately dominated on a warm, sunny afternoon.

Odubade got around the back of the St Albans back line to cross well from the bye-line, but alert keeper Bastock cut it out as Day prepared to pounce.

A few minutes later, Odubade was manhandled by centre back Djoumin Sangare on the left edge of the area, and then inside it as he continued his run.

The referee's assistant flagged for the foul, but didn't put his flag across his arm, so the ref was forced to give a free-kick for the first infringement rather than a penalty for the second.

Danny Rose curled the free-kick over the wall, but Bastock saved to his left.When the U's won a left-wing corner, it was Barry Quinn who took it, in the absence of Martin Foster, and he swung it over well, though Saints managed to defend the set piece. United were by now totally on top and Odubade went close with a header across goal from beyond the far post from Day's right-wing cross.

The pressure had been building, and it was no surprise when Odubade fired the visitors in front in the 26th minute.

Odubade's pace was too much for the Saints' defence and twice more he raced through on goal.

When he sprinted through on the left and cleanly hit an angled shot that was heading in, Bastock again saved superbly to his left.

Zebroski then miskicked 12 yards out in front of goal, and the on-loan Millwall striker was denied a second goal in successive games when Bastock smothered his overhead kick. Chris Hargreaves's follow-up shot was blocked at impact.

St Albans nearly capitalised on Oxford's wastefulness just before the break when, on a rare break down the other end, Leon Archer glanced a header narrowly wide.

The home side came out of the traps strongly in the second half, when the U's went through a definite lull.

Nothing really happened until Smith lost patience, and made changes.

Burgess and Luke Foster replaced Rose and Johnson., and Foster had a chance late in the match when Burgess's corner was dropped by Bastock and in a mad scramble, the defender worked the ball free of would-be tacklers on the edge of the box, but had his shot charged down.Hann hit a very clean angled shot five minutes from time which Billy Turley saved on his knees.

And as the game entered the second minute of stoppage time, Oxford finally did make the game safe when Foster dived forward, and bravely at foot level, to head home Day's left-wing cross.