THE reliable pairing of James Henry and Cameron Brannagan were both on target to give Oxford United a straightforward victory over Tranmere Rovers.

A second three-point haul of the season was much-needed – and thoroughly deserved.

Tariqe Fosu was heavily involved in the first two goals, starting with a 40-yard run which earned a penalty.

Henry calmly converted from 12 yards and United never looked back.

Their control of the game kept Rovers under pressure, but it took until midway through the second half for it to pay dividends.

When it came there was little surprise it came via Brannagan, who converted Fosu’s pass for his fifth goal of the season.

Henry bagged his third spot kick of the season in stoppage-time to round off a fine afternoon’s work, which also included a clean sheet.

It lifted United away from the bottom three, ahead of Tuesday’s trip to basement side Bolton Wanderers.

Ben Woodburn and Fosu were restored to the starting line-up as Anthony Forde and Shandon Baptiste dropped to the bench.

But United were forced into a third change before the warm-up, John Mousinho promoted after a back spasm ruled out Elliott Moore.

The home side had been given extra time during the week to recover from a busy schedule, but the fresh legs almost trailed in the third minute.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy fizzed a ball into the danger zone and it fell kindly for David Perkins, but with the goal gaping Alex Gorrin made a magnificent block.

With Tranmere packing men behind the ball when United were in possession, the opening stages were scrappy.

Fosu fired into the side netting after being picked out by Rob Dickie’s raking pass as United began to find space after the quarter-hour mark.

The breakthrough came midway through the half, on the counter-attack from a Rovers corner.

Woodburn blocked Jennings’ ball forward and it fell to Fosu, who drove from the halfway line all the way to the penalty area, where he went down under a challenge from Liam Ridehalgh.

Referee Robert Lewis took an age to make a decision, before pointing to the spot after a glance at his assistant.

While Fosu appeared keen to take the penalty himself, Henry was unmoved and coolly sent Scott Davies the wrong way to put the hosts in front.

A third goal of the season for last term’s top scorer came close ten minutes later, but his curled effort from the edge of the box went just wide.

With the boost of the first goal – for only the second time in eight games – United began to knock the ball around with more confidence.

Although they did not get out of second gear before the break, it was good enough to dominate possession and keep Rovers pinned back.

It took time for the hosts to re-establish their dominance after the interval.

But a flurry of set pieces saw them get back on top, with Davies forced to tip over a looping Dickie header from one corner after the hour mark.

Despite carrying precious little goal threat Rovers, who were not helped by two enforced changes for injuries, were still in the game while it was 1-0.

That lasted until the 70th minute, when United’s pressure turned into a second goal.

Fosu was again the architect, showing composure in the box to cut the ball back into space for Brannagan to cushion a shot which took a deflection on its way into the net.

With the luxury of a two-goal cushion for the first time since early April, United looked to cut loose in the latter stages.

Shandon Baptiste showed some neat touches after coming off the bench, while boss Karl Robinson was also able to ease Matty Taylor back into action late on.

Baptiste was tripped in the box at the start of stoppage-time, although there was an awful moment where it looked like the midfielder was seriously injured.

After the home fans breathed a sigh of relief as he got back to his feet, Henry calmly picked out the opposite corner to the first half to seal a 3-0 victory.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): Eastwood, Cadden, Dickie, Mousinho, Ruffels, Brannagan, Gorrin, Henry, Woodburn (Baptiste 74), Fosu (Forde 84), Mackie (Taylor 84).

Unused subs: Stevens, Long, Hall, Agyei.

Booked: Dickie, Woodburn.

Tranmere Rov (4-1-4-1): Davies, Woods (Borthwick-Jackson 38), Monthe, Nelson, Ridehalgh, Hepburn-Murphy, Potter, Perkins (Banks 74), Jennings, Mullin, Payne (Morris 61).

Unused subs: Pilling, Ray, Ponticelli, Gilmour.

Booked: Woods, Nelson.

Referee: Robert Lewis (Shropshire).

Attendance: 6,294 (639 visitors).