Justin Richards ended his long wait for a goal with an absolute beauty at The Shay on Saturday The big centre forward put a classy finishing touch to a fine Oxford United move which brought them their second goal in the 57th minute, and a second successive away win.

Eddie Anaclet worked the ball forward, Matt Green crossed first-time from near the right bye-line and Richards met it on the run and deftly backheeled it beyond goalkeeper Adam Legzdins' reach and just inside the far post.

It was a quality flick to end Richards' eight-game wait to get off the mark for the U's since joining them on loan from Kidderminster.

United were already ahead thanks to a 37th-minute penalty by Adam Murray, which was also his first goal for the club.

And Richards was the one who won the spot kick when he was brought down by the keeper.

Richards then completed his Happy Easter afternoon by making Goal No 3 as well, six mionutes from time.

Murray fed him on the right after a fine run, and his cross-shot was turned into his own net by centre half Santos Gaia.

It was a very open start to the game and United almopst got off to a flier as Phil Trainer brought the ball down skilfully near the touchline, straight from the kick-off, crossed as soon as he could and Justin Richards got in front of his man for a good header which bounced just the wrong side of the post.

Light snow in the opening minutes turned much heavier, and the strong wind was blowing it towards Billy Turley in the visitors' goal.

Turley dived full-length to his right when Simon Heslop drove in a low 25-yard shot following a free-kick given away by Barry Quinn. Half the crowd thought the ball was in the net as it flew bneyond Turley's reach, but it had slammed into the outside of the side-netting, rather than the inside.

As well as the weather conditions both sides were having to deal with, the pitch was in a poor condition, with a lot more mud than grass covering some areas.

Halifax began to look dangerous in their attacks, and after a forceful run by Danny Forrest, the ball was taken on by Lewis Killeen, who accelerated impressively past the last United defender and then fired a shot across the face of the goal.

It needed a good defensive clearance from Richards, heading out for a corner, to clear the danger when the Shaymen threatened again.

Moments later, Forrest hit a useful shot on the turn from the edge of the box, but it was straight into Turley's arms as the keeper dropped to his knees to save.

As the home side continued to press, Heslop then drove across the goalmouth with the U's thanking their lucky stars that none of his teammates had gambled on a run to meet it.

Jon Shaw nearly added to his 22 goals this season with an excellent strike from three yards outside the area, which slammed against the right post.

Richards had been holding the ball up well, and he could claim a major assist in Oxford's goal by winning their penalty nine minutes before half-time.

Green challenged for the ball with a Halifax defender, and the ball ran away into space near the right edge of the penalty area. Richards got to it first, before keeper Legzdins, who took his legs away. The ref pointed immediately for a penalty and Murray desptached it high past Legzdins' right hand.

Halifax were forced to make a change at the start of the second half when top scorer Shaw went off, and ex-U's striker Andy Campbell replaced him.

The home side knocked the ball around well for a ten-minute spell, and only Turley's reactions coming off his line denied them an equaliser.

Forrest skipped around Barry Quinn's challenge with ease but Turley was off his line in a flash to make a great blocking save.

After Richards' clever second goal, United were full of confidence and renewed belief.

Green might have got another, but somehow scooped his shot over the bar from close range, from Michael Howard's cross, and Jamie Hand tried his luck with a 50-yard shot after spotting the keeper way off his line.

The third goal sealed a very good afternoon for United. It had to go down as an own goal, because Richards' shot was not going in, but the big man had been tremendous.