CALLUM O'Dowda's double fired Oxford United to a new club record as they beat Barnet to edge a step closer to automatic promotion.

The winger's goals blew apart a fixture which for 45 minutes had looked very tricky for the visitors, who needed to soak up huge amounts of pressure in the first half.

But O'Dowda, who flies to Dublin tomorrow on Republic of Ireland Under 21 duty, turned the game with two strikes in 14 minutes.

Danny Hylton added a third late on to make sure of a 12th away league win for United - the most they have recorded in a single season.

With rivals elsewhere suffering mixed results, this was a massive result as their advantage over third place doubled to six points.

Head coach Michael Appleton named the same side which started the 4-0 win against Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday night.

The only change came on the bench, where Jordan Evans returned after tonsillitis, coming in for Josh Ashby.

United almost picked up where they left off in midweek.

O'Dowda went through on goal in the third minute, but after checking on to his left foot the winger's shot was saved by goalkeeper Jamie Stephens.

While Barnet may be in the bottom half of the Sky Bet League Two table, their home form is excellent.

The Bees quickly showed why so many visiting teams have struggled, putting United under huge pressure.

Martin Allen's direct side looked to turn the U's back four at every opportunity and any throw within 40 yards of the penalty area was propelled into the danger zone by Sam Muggleton.

Benji Buchel made a smart save to keep up out Curtis Weston's sixth-minute header.

United had to work very hard to weather the storm and George Waring had only mixed success with holding the ball up when it was cleared.

Buchel kept out a fierce Weston shot with his chest after John Akinde had got away with a shove on Chey Dunkley, who had allowed a long ball to bounce on 18 minutes.

United's best moments all came on the break.

One gorgeous John Lundstram pass freed Alex MacDonald, but at pace the winger never looked comfortable and his snatched shot was saved by Stephens.

The Barnet goalkeeper made a far better stop on 28 minutes.

Another break saw Kemar Roofe get into the box and pull a cross back for an unmarked Liam Sercombe, who could only shoot straight at Stephens.

Had the shot been aimed a yard either side of the exposed stopper, it would have probably been 1-0.

It was a good spell for United, but any thoughts Barnet had been seen off were quickly scotched amid another flurry of balls over the top and long throws.

Skipper Johnny Mullins in particular did well to keep the game scoreless at half-time, while Buchel also showed excellent anticipation to race off his line to deny the dangerous Gambin a chance from Akinde's flick.

United had earned the right to play - and when spaces began to open after the break their talents shone.

Within seven minutes they were ahead.

Roofe found the sprinting O'Dowda down the left channel and although the winger's low cross was blocked, he reacted quickest to turn the looping ball into the net as Barnet hesitated.

It came in front of the travelling fans, who went ballistic.

A goal up, United began to enjoy themselves.

Suddenly their midfielders had room to play and O'Dowda led the charge for more goals.

One sprint forward opened up Barnet and when he found Roofe, United's top scorer was inches away from finding the top corner with a curled 20-yard shot.

The away fans did not have long to wait for the second goal, which arrived on 65 minutes.

A Barnet attack broke down and United suddenly had a two-versus-two attack.

Alex MacDonald made a decoy run and O'Dowda sprinted through the middle.

Although Stephens blocked the initial shot, again the 20-year-old profited on the rebound to slam into the net.

It was a hugely important goal, giving United breathing space.

Only an excellent block from Stephens prevented Waring from quickly adding a third goal, when an O'Dowda free-kick fell kindly.

Barnet kept plugging away and Buchel needed to be alert to tip over a fierce shot from Andy Yiadom.

But two minutes from time substitute Hylton finished off a cross from John Lundstram to cap off a terrific away win.

Barnet: Stephens, Pearson, Sesay (Batt 55), N'Gala, Nelson, Johnson, Yiadom, Weston, Muggleton (Togwell 68), Gambin (Shomotun 64), Akinde.

Unused subs: McKenzie-Lyle, Vilhete, Champion, Randall.

Oxford Utd: Buchel, Kenny, Mullins, Dunkley, Skarz, MacDonald, Sercombe, Lundstram, O'Dowda (Bowery 70), Roofe, Waring (Hylton 83).

Unused subs: Slocombe, Wright, Evans, Ruffels, Maguire.

Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland).

Attendance: 3,264 (1,568 visitors).