OXFORD United climbed out of the bottom two as goals from Tyrone Barnett and Alfie Potter gave them a crucial win against rock bottom Tranmere Rovers.

The hosts were edgy early on as Tranmere looked the more composed side, but a 90-yard move finished off by Barnett settled the Kassam Stadium down.

Only two outstanding saves from goalkeeper Peter Brezovan, both to deny Barnett, kept Tranmere in the game before half-time.

Despite the home side largely controlling the game, the result was still in doubt until Potter, on as a substitute, calmly finished 17 minutes from time.

It was a richly deserved result for United, who will now be looking to build on the win when they visits Northampton and Carlisle next week.

In the wake of the 5-1 defeat at Cambridge United last week, U's head coach Michael Appleton made four changes to the XI.

Tareiq Holmes-Dennis came in at left back for his senior debut after signing on loan from Charlton Athletic.

Jake Wright started after shrugging off a knee injury, Tyrone Barnett was back after suspension and Andy Whing made his first start since April.

Tom Newey, Brian Howard and Junior Brown dropped out of the matchday squad, along with Alex Jakubiak, who was left out to avoid United having six loan players in the 18.

The home side began nervously and inside two minutes gifted Tranmere an opportunity.

A careless pass from Michael Collins saw George Barker intercept the ball and burst past Johnny Mullins, but his attempted lob did not clear Ryan Clarke.

Tranmere had lost their last four games, costing manager Rob Edwards his job on Monday.

New boss Micky Adams, watching from the stands, will have been pleased with the opening 20 minutes, where Rovers were the more assertive outfit.

United were guilty of giving the ball away in their own half and Clarke needed to make a good save in the 19th minute.

Whing surrendered possession 30 yards out and Tranmere worked the opportunity well, with Max Power shooting from the edge of the box and bringing out a smart stop from the goalkeeper.

Aside from a Danny Hylton header which drifted harmlessly wide, United did not have a clear sight of goal until they scored, on 28 minutes.

It came via an end-to-end move, started by Holmes-Dennis in his own area following an over-hit Tranmere cross.

The full back advanced before spraying a pass forward for Hylton, who bustled past a defender and squared for Barnett to sweep a finish into the net.

It was the striker's second goal for the club and he had two more good chances before half-time.

The first came six minutes before the break, when he flicked on Clarke's long clearance.

Hylton latched on to it and cut the ball back for Barnett, whose low shot was well blocked by Peter Brezovan.

The goalkeeper had a brief trial with the U's during the summer and made an even better stop on the stroke of half-time.

Barnett arched his body superbly to generate power on Danny Rose's lofted cross, but the header was brilliantly kept out one-handed by Brezovan low to his right.

The Peterborough loanee had another header as United made a lively start to the second half, nodding wide from O'Dowda's cross.

Tranmere looked a very limited side, but while it was only 1-0 they were still in the game.

The visitors had a good spell around the hour mark, forcing several corners which United dealt with effectively.

They needed a second goal to be comfortable - and could not have got closer on 63 minutes.

O'Dowda did well to turn a deep cross back across goal, where Hylton under pressure from a defender fired a shot from three yards which smacked the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and out.

Standing on the touchline, Appleton - like most of his players - thrust his hands on his head.

It might have been costly, but ten minutes later the nerves were calmed.

Potter, on as a substitute for his first action in more than a month, made no mistake at the back post from Riley's low cross.

It came as a huge relief for the home faithful and the winger, who has been on the fringes this season.

The two-goal cushion killed off Tranmere, who huffed and puffed in the closing stages without stretching Clarke.

Oxford Utd: Clarke, Riley, Mullins, Wright, Holmes-Dennis, Whing, Collins (Ruffels 84), Hylton, Rose (Roberts 88), O'Dowda (Potter 64), Barnett.

Unused subs: G Long, Raynes, Morris, Meades.

Tranmere: Brezovan, Donacien, Ihiekwe, Holness, Holmes, Koumas, Power, Gill (Laird ht), Donnelly, Odejayi (Richards 71), Barker (Baggie 71).

Unused subs: Fon Williams, Rowe, Kirby, Davies.

Referee: Kevin Johnson (Somerset).

Attendance: 4,748 (459 visitors).