Michael Appleton thanked Oxford United’s supporters for the role they played in a critically-important 2-1 victory against Carlisle United.

The result, only the side’s second home win in ten attempts, relieved some of the relegation fears which had been building after back-to-back defeats.

A third straight setback looked a possibility when Carlisle took an early lead, but United fought back and won with goals from Patrick Hoban and Kyle Vassell.

Appleton, who has endured a frosty relationship with supporters at times, was quick to acknowledge their contribution.

He said: “I thought they were absolutely magnificent.

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“Even when we conceded there were large sections of the crowd getting behind the players to push them on.

“That’s pleasing, because the evidence is in the result.

“Because they stuck with the players, the belief they showed rubbed off on to the players.

“In the previous home game (a 2-0 defeat to Hartlepool United) we started really well and then got hit by a sucker-punch.

“The same thing happened here, but this was a different story, because there was a belief, on and off the pitch.

“It was a massive game – I think the players knew it and the fans did as well.”

Avoiding relegation should now be straightforward with seven games remaining, but Appleton stressed the job was far from done.

He said: “Without boring people, we recognise where we are.

“We’re not changing the way we approach the games and we have got a focus about us.

“We know what we need to get in terms of the points tally and we’ve never shied away from that.”

Carlisle manager Keith Curle felt United’s appetite for the scrap was key and thought his side were fortunate to take the lead.

He said: “I think we were lucky to go 1-0 up. They started better than us, purely by doing the horrible side of the game.

“We kept a clean sheet in the first 15 minutes, but on another day we could’ve been 3-0 down.

“As a team we didn’t do the basics right.”