MARCUS Browne marked a superb display with two goals as Oxford United bounced back in style to beat Rochdale in an enthralling contest.

The U's headed into the fixture with a determination to return to winning ways after their nine-game unbeaten run was ended at the weekend.

And United rediscovered their cutting edge to make it five home matches without defeat, moving up to 19th in the process and four points clear of the Sky Bet League One relegation zone.

Quickfire goals from Jamie Mackie and James Henry had put the hosts in control, before Ian Henderson halved the deficit before half-time.

Browne fired home to make it 3-1, but Callum Camps’ long-range effort kept Rochdale in the game with 21 minutes to go.

However, United’s No 10 made the points safe when exquisitely lifting the ball over goalkeeper Joshua Lillis.

Despite Saturday’s defeat at Bradford City, a busy treatment room saw Karl Robinson name an unchanged starting XI.

Heavy rain had pelted the county before the game, but Storm Diana cleared in time for a calm evening at the Kassam Stadium.

United registered the only shot on goal in an uneventful opening ten minutes as Lillis easily saved Browne’s long-range effort.

The West Ham United loanee had shown glimpses of being a thorn in Rochdale’s side and on 11 minutes the hosts went ahead.

United paid the price for not being clinical at Bradford on Saturday, but they took their chances this time.

Cameron Brannagan’s corner was helped towards goal by Rob Dickie, who was denied by Lillis, but Mackie was quick to pounce and fired home from close range.

United’s pressing of the ball had been impressive early on, while Browne should have doubled their lead moments later, only to be denied by the legs of the Rochdale stopper.

The hosts did not have to wait long to make it 2-0, though, with their No 10 causing havoc again.

Browne raced into the area and found the on-rushing Henry, who hammered high into the net, leaving Lillis grasping at thin air.

United were on top and had Rochdale’s trio of centre halves back-pedalling at every opportunity.

They could have been out of sight on 28 minutes, but Josh Ruffels’ diving header from a Browne corner went the wrong side of a post.

Instead, the home side’s lead was halved two minutes later as goalkeeper Simon Eastwood failed to gather a swerving low free-kick from Camps and Henderson did well to fire home from a narrow angle.

Suddenly there was a nervy atmosphere, but United did well to retake control and Browne forced Lillis into a fine save with a curling effort which bounced in front of the visitors’ No 1.

Rochdale were having a tough evening against the 20-year-old and, after a succession of fouls, Connor Randall was booked for hacking down the U’s man.

The visitors were still struggling to deal with the hosts and manager Keith Hill switched from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 towards the end of the half, replacing Randall, who had endured a torrid time against Browne, with MJ Williams.

United started the second period brightly, with Gavin Whyte driving an effort just over the bar.

And they soon re-established their two-goal lead when Whyte found Jamie Hanson in the area and the ball was cut back for Browne to fire home a goal his performance deserved on 52 minutes.

United still had to be wary of their visitors and Ryan Delaney headed a corner just wide before the hour mark.

But the home side were soon back down the other end of the pitch and Whyte blazed over after Mackie had inadvertently deflected a Browne free-kick into his path.

The visitors were right back in the contest again, though, when Camps tried his luck from 25 yards and his effort skidded off the greasy surface and slipped under Eastwood.

United’s No 1 would have been disappointed with the manner of both of Rochdale’s goals, but he made a fine one-handed stop to keep out a Camps volley moments later.

The Kassam Stadium was a nervy place to be again and the same player went close once more, firing just wide after beating the offside trap.

United needed to reclaim control and with 12 minutes remaining they did.

Brannagan stormed forward and found Browne, who showed great composure to lift the ball over Lillis and make it 4-2.

United needed to see out the game professionally and they did so by looking to extend their lead as Browne saw a shot blocked, before curling another effort just wide.

The hosts were then never troubled in the closing stages as they returned to winning ways in style.

Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Eastwood, Hanson, Nelson, Dickie, Ruffels, Mousinho, Brannagan, Henry (Long 87), Whyte, Browne (Garbutt 90), Mackie.

Unused subs: Mitchell, Norman, Smith, Raglan, Bradbury.

Booked: Browne.

Rochdale (3-5-2): Lillis, McGahey, McNulty, Delaney, Randall (Williams 40), Camps, Rathbone, Hart (Done 73), Adshead, Henderson, Wilbraham (Andrew 54).

Unused subs: Rafferty, Dooley, Perkins, Norman.

Booked: Randall, Wilbraham, McNulty, Williams, McGahey.

Referee: Craig Hicks (Surrey).

Attendance: 5,204 (139 visitors).