Phil Trainer struck his first goal since August as Oxford United avoided a third successive embarrassing away defeat with a hard-earned victory on the western edge of Leeds today.

The former Moor Green midfielder, who hadn't found the net since his brace against Stafford Rangers on August 25, buried a low shot into the Farsley Celtic net on 54 minutes, and a strong defensive performance did the rest.

It brought the U's only their second win in eight games, but was a very welcome three points for manager Jim Smith, the players, and the travelling fans.

The game was memorable for two superb U's performances, at the back by Chris Willmott, and up front by Ipswich Town loanee Jordan Rhodes, who showed considerable promise and maturity for a 17-year-old.

Smith deployed four at the back for the first time this season as he went with a 4-3-3 formation.

Either side of centre halves Chris Willmott and Phil Gilochrist were Luke Foster and Alex Jeannin, and it was a very new looking midfield of Stefan Bailey, Carl Pettefer and Phil Trainer trying to supply a front three of Yemi Odubade, Stefan Rhodes and Danny Rose.

Apart from the centre backs, it was a youthful and inexperienced U's side, with on-loan Bailey and Rhodes making their full debuts for the club.

Considering the distance, there was a good-sized away support at Throstle Nest, a basic ground and considerably less romatic than its name makes it sound.

United, playing in all yellow, made a steady if unspectacular start.

When Rhodes came deep to try to build an attack, and went past three opponents with some good footwork, Lee Tuck came flying in with a very late chjallenge, which left him much worse off than United's striker. He then lay on the ground seemingly in agone for a good 90 seconds, until the ball came his way and then miraculously jumped to his feet to gain possession. Even the Yorkshire club's fans couldn't help but laugh.

Good work by Rhodes, and persistence by Odubade, brought the visitors their first corner in the 27th minute, and after that was only half-cleared, Rhodes almost met Jeannin's excellent left-wing cross with a header on goal, keeper Tom Morgan just doing enough to block on impact.

Rhodes looked as though he was determined to make a mark on the game, and when he created space to fire in a curling right-footed shot from 20 yards, it was a superb effort, matched by a fine fingertip save from Morgan, who touched it around the post.

Farsley's best chance of the first half an hour soon followed, after Foster fouled just outside his area. T he free-kick was whipped in between Turley and his defence and anyone could have got a touch - but no-one did.

Simeon Bambrook got on the end of a swift Farsley break to hammer in a shot that Willmott blocked with his body.

As the home side came forward with increasing frequency, James Knowles tested Turley with a far-post header but it was a comfortable save.

At the other end, the impressive Rhodes then directed a glancing header from a Jeannin free-kick narrowly past the far post.

In the last minute of the first half, Oxford had a let-off when Tuck hit the underside of the bar with Turley beaten. It was very Route 1, coming from keeper Morgan's long clearance. Tuck anticipated the bouncing ball better than anyone, and his half-volley from 15 yards smashed against the woodwork.

Bailey had been quiet in the opening 45 minutes, but he came aliove six minutes after the break with a sharp turn and cross to Rose, who spun and hit a superb shot that Morgan tipped onto the bar and over.

Rose was replaced a minute later by Matt Day, who slotted in at left back. Jeannin moved to left midfield so United were back in 4-4-2 mode.

And within a couple of minutes, Oxford had taken the lead. Gilchrist knocked the ball in from the left, and it dropped for Trainer to lash a low drive from a central position into the net.

The goal helped United's players relax, and they played the ball around confidently. Pettefer probably should have done better than knock a cross-cum-shot from a great position into no-man's land, and Willmott produced three great blocks and a crucial interception in quick succession Trainer almost got his second goal of the afternoon when he reached the ball on the left side of the box ahead of the keeper and then sent in a shot, but a Farsley defender was back to block.

Day then put a header just wide at a corner as United continued to assert themselves, but 16 minutes from time, the home side hit the woodwork for the second time when the impressive Tuck drove an angled shot against the bar from 14 yards with Turley beaten.

Turley had to be very alert to dive at the feet of Tuck to save Despite looking very tired, Rhodes nearly poked in a cross following a long throw-in and five minutes from time, he turned his man, sprinted goalwards and was unlucky to see his low shot just palmed away by Morgan to prevent it entering the net.

Seventeen-year-old Alex Fisher came on for the last few minutes for his first taste of senior action.

In the final minute substitute Gareth Grant was put through on goal, but a wonderful saving challenge from Foster whipped the ball off his feet.