OXFORD United ended their six-game winless run in style by hammering Plymouth Argyle at Home Park.

An away win looked on the cards from the moment Ryan Edwards was sent off for conceding a 15th-minute penalty, which was converted by Ryan Ledson.

Argyle contested the red-card decision but were well in the game up to half-time, before United put them to the sword after the break.

Wes Thomas made up for striking the woodwork with a great chance by grabbing the all-important second goal.

James Henry stretched the lead before Jon Obika sealed a delightful trip to Devon.

Pep Clotet’s two changes to his starting XI from the 2-1 defeat to Northampton Town a week ago were enforced.

Aaron Martin and Josh Ruffels came in for Curtis Nelson and Rob Hall, who are beginning recoveries from long-term injuries picked up against the Cobblers.

United went into the game on the back of a four-game losing run, while Plymouth were in good form despite being second bottom in the table.

But from kick-off the signs were promising for the visitors, who were given space in which to play.

Joe Rothwell had a shot deflected wide from Jack Payne’s eighth-minute pass and the midfielder quickly turned provider – squaring from the next attack to Ruffels, whose effort from 12 yards was parried by goalkeeper Remi Matthews.

The biggest moment of the half came from a long ball by John Mousinho, who made a good start to life as U’s skipper following Nelson’s injury.

Thomas raced on to the pass and got his body between the ball and Edwards.

Oxford Mail:

  • Wes Thomas is fouled by Ryan Edwards for the penalty, which saw the Plymouth defender sent off

The centre back clumsily bumped into the striker, bringing him down ten yards out. Referee Graham Horwood pointed to the penalty spot and must have deemed the foul was deliberate, as he showed Argyle’s No 5 a straight red card.

Ledson's previous penalty had been saved, but made no mistake this time by tucking the ball into the left corner as Matthews dived in the opposite direction.

It was a dream start for a side desperate for a result.

But Argyle, who switched from 4-3-3 to 4-4-1, reorganised and went on to have a good spell.

Jake Jervis headed a good chance over from a cross by Graham Carey, who then came within inches of an equaliser.

After Jervis won a cheap free-kick 20 yards out, the Irishman whipped the set piece on to the post and it rebounded on to the diving Simon Eastwood’s back before going out for a corner.

United were unable to exert the same control as they had when facing 11 men.

They carried a threat, but either the final ball lacked quality or the visitors were guilty of being over-elaborate around the box.

Argyle felt they had a case for a spot-kick of their own six minutes before the break, but the referee pointed for a corner when Aaron Taylor-Sinclair’s cross appeared to strike Henry’s arm.

While it was 1-0, the hosts remained a threat and Jervis dragged a shot wide early in the second half as United dozed off at a free-kick.

A second goal was always going to be key and Thomas should have got it five minutes after the restart, but from Payne’s pass he fired against the woodwork with only Matthews to beat.

It was potentially a costly miss, but within two minutes United’s top-scorer had made amends.

His seventh goal of the season owed everything to his predatory instincts, reacting quickest to turn in on the rebound after Rothwell’s shot was saved.

Oxford Mail:

  • James Henry makes it 3-0 from a narrow angle

Henry hit the crossbar on the hour before wrapping up the points himself eight minutes later.

Ledson’s forward pass found Dwight Tiendalli, who capped off his best display in a U’s shirt by setting up Henry to thread a shot into the net from an acute angle.

Substitute Obika made it 4-0 from Ricardinho’s cutback 13 minutes from time and the striker should have added quickly another, only to shoot wide from Henry’s pass as Argyle disintegrated.

Plymouth Arg (4-3-3): Matthews, Sawyer, Edwards, Bradley, Taylor-Sinclair (Miller HT), Diagouraga (Sarcevic 74), Songo’o, Fox, Carey, Jervis, Grant (Lameiras 64).

Unused subs: Cooper, Ainsworth, Wylde, Fletcher.

Booked: Songo’o.

Sent off: Edwards.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): Eastwood, Tiendalli, Martin, Mousinho, Ricardinho, Ledson (Xemi 72), Ruffels, Henry, Payne (Mowatt 65), Rothwell, Thomas (Obika 69).

Unused subs: Shearer, Williamson, Carroll, Napa.

Booked: Obika.

Referee: Graham Horwood (Bedfordshire).

Attendance: 10,805 (837 visitors).