MICHAEL Appleton was delighted to see Oxford United’s attacking instincts reap rewards at Bolton Wanderers.

The goalless game had started to drift after half-time, but the U’s boss sensed an opportunity.

An attacking change, with Wes Thomas coming on for Joe Rothwell, helped swing the game towards the visitors.

They found an extra gear in the final 20 minutes to control the game and Bolton could have no complaints as Thomas and Chris Maguire scored late on to earn a 2-0 victory.

Appleton said: “I just turned round to Faz (assistant head coach Derek Fazackerley) and said ‘I think they’re here for the taking, let’s have a go’.

“It proved the right decision because every time we won the ball we looked a threat on the counter-attack.”

The goals in the final ten minutes were not what really pleased the U’s head coach, though.

Instead he looked to the other end of the pitch, where a fourth clean sheet in six games means only Bolton and Bradford City have conceded fewer goals in Sky Bet League One.

He said: “To come here and keep a clean sheet was a big thing.

“The reality is if you do that you won’t lose and I do believe we have players who can win games.

“That was the message I got on when we were 2-0 up.

“I know we were going into injury time, but I wanted the clean sheet as well as the win.”

“The centre halves were very dominant and the full backs were steady Eddies, so I’m delighted for them.”

It secured a first away league victory at the sixth attempt, although the run had not troubled Appleton.

He said: “I think the fact we had a few wins at home probably took a bit of pressure from it.

“I saw a lot of signs on Tuesday (in a 2-1 defeat at Southend) that got us ever so close to the standards we set last year.”