Jim Smith knows that tonight's top-of-the-table Conference clash with Dagenham & Redbridge is Oxford United's last throw of the dice to try to win the league.

United have already conceded that it's highly unlikely Dagenham will lose at least four of their remaining eight games when they have only been beaten in five of their first 38.

But Oxford know they will have no hope of overhauling them if they don't take three points in front of the Sky TV cameras this evening.

The U's have beaten the Daggers twice this season, away in both the league and FA Cup.

But Dagenham have shown gre- ater consistency at home, and in reeling off a higher percentage of wins against teams in the bottom half.

Oxford, meanwhile, have only shown title-winning form on their tra- vels.

John Still's team come into tonight's match on the back of five straight away wins.

They effectively clinched the title a fortnight ago when they reeled off three impressive victories at difficult venues, triumphing at Burton and then beating both Southport and Kidderminster 4-1.

Smith says he has nothing but admiration for the way that Dagenham have kept on winning.

"You've got to give them full marks," Smith said. "We've slipped up, but we still couldn't have got too far beyond them.

"Maybe we could have got level-pegging with them, but they've just done incredibly.

"They've got this system that they play to, it's very aggressive - very high tempo. They move it back to front very quickly, but we know that and we know what we've got to do.

"It's going to be almost impossible to catch them, but we're playing for that second spot to enable us to play the right people at the end of the season.

"We're at home and we want to beat Dagenham. We've defeated them twice already, so we want to take three points off them, and then they'll be looking at their results again.

"It's all about our performances and getting the points that enables us to be in the pole position in the play-offs."

Phil Gilchrist looks set to return to United's defence, and Gavin Johnson may return at left back or left wingback.

Martin Foster sits out the second game in his two-match ban, while the U's await news of Mickey Corcoran's fitness on his return from Northern Ireland Under 21 duty over the weekend in Romania.

Smith also has to decide what to do up front where there is strong competition for places.

Rob Duffy returns from his two-game ban, but the 21-goal top-scorer is not guaranteed to come straight back in, after two disappointing performances before his suspension.

"Rob is available again and it's good to have that competition," Smith said. "I did a little bit of rotation at Halifax and I'll probably do a little bit of rotation tonight."

And he stressed how important the last few games will be.

"We have to make sure we keep getting the points, and keep in the position we're in. Who knows what's going to happen to Dagenham?

"It's a big ask, but it's a funny old game.

"But we've got a hell of a lot to play for."

Oxford Utd: (from) Turley, Quinn, Corcoran, Gilchrist, Johnson, Anaclet, Hargreaves, Pettefer, Rose, Zebroski, Robinson, Tardif, L Foster, Duffy, Odubade, Burgess, Day, Brevett.

Dagenham & Redbridge: (from) Roberts, Griffiths, Boardman, Foster, Uddin, Rainford, Southam, Stamp, Saunders, Moore, Benson, Arber, Vernazza, Leberl, Strevens, Eyre, Sloma, Wallis.