OXFORD United produced exactly the response they needed with a hard-fought win over fourth-placed Lincoln City.

The U’s bounced back from defeats to Blackpool and Northampton Town despite going behind to Anthony Scully’s fourth-minute goal, as Anthony Forde and Matty Taylor secured victory in front of the Sky cameras.

Forde struck with his first touch after replacing Josh Ruffels just two minutes earlier, while top scorer Taylor finished from close range after the break to reward a front-foot performance.

It came on an evening when Lincoln had to change in one of the South Stand lounges due to Covid cases in their camp, but that did not distract the U’s.

They go seventh in Sky Bet League One, only outside the play-offs on goal difference, having claimed a first league win at the Kassam Stadium when playing live on Sky.

Karl Robinson reverted to 4-3-3 and made five changes to the line-up that started Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat at Northampton Town.

The most notable new face was James Henry, who had been absent since February 27 with a hamstring injury, while Jamie Hanson, Mark Sykes, Brandon Barker and Taylor also came back in.

Meanwhile, a tight groin meant Alex Gorrin missed out on the squad altogether as United’s treatment room showed no sign of emptying.

An already-depleted Lincoln named just five substitutes on the bench, after Adam Jackson and Callum Morton were ruled out due to Covid issues.

If that affected the visitors they hid it well, as Scully followed up his goal in the Imps’ 2-0 win over United on the opening day.

Morgan Rogers broke into space down the left and fed Tayo Edun, who crossed low into the six-yard box from the byline.

Scully was allowed time to get the ball out of his feet and, although he scuffed the shot, it rolled over the line.

Lincoln played a fluid 4-3-3 with left-back Cohen Bramall pushing high and United took time to settle.

But the U’s were in control from the moment Henry fired just wide from outside the box after 19 minutes.

The midfielder went even closer seconds later, as goalkeeper Alex Palmer spilled his 25-yard effort behind him and Lewis Montsma got back just in time to hook the ball off the line.

The U’s should have had a penalty midway through the half, when Harry Anderson kicked Rob Atkinson’s calf after Josh Ruffels’ effort was pushed away by Palmer.

That chance came at a cost as Ruffels went down holding his knee, but his replacement made an instant impact.

Elliott Moore headed a corner towards goal and a scramble ensued, with the ball eventually sitting up for Forde to lash home the U’s 50th league goal of the season from 12 yards.

United looked hungry in and out of possession, but Lincoln came on strong at the end of the half.

The U’s benefitted from a moment of controversy in the 43rd minute, as Jack Stevens brought Anderson down just outside the box with the winger through on goal.

The goalkeeper only received a booking, before Edun blazed over at the start of stoppage-time.

Lincoln remained on the front foot after the break and an unmarked James Jones, on as a first-half substitute for Liam Bridcutt, headed over three minutes after the restart.

The second period began in breathless fashion and United had the lead before the hour mark.

Sykes met Henry’s cross from the right and forced a great save from Palmer, but Taylor was on hand to dispatch the rebound and score his 14th goal of the season from close range.

Stevens was soon called into action, blocking Jones’ low effort and then diving at Anderson’s feet when the Lincoln man sprung the offside trap.

The U’s now had a lead to protect and Henry was withdrawn after 65 minutes as expected, but it was a surprise to see Leon Chambers-Parillon brought on in his place.

The youngster slotted in quickly in midfield and did well to keep an attack alive ten minutes from time, laying the ball off to Forde for Taylor to head over.

That was the striker’s last action as he and Mide Shodipo were replaced by Sam Winnall and Dan Agyei.

Forde thought he had another when Palmer looked to have carried his late corner over the line, but it did not matter as United can go into their weekend off on the back of three points.

Oxford United (4-3-3): Stevens, Hanson, Moore, Atkinson, Ruffels (Forde 27), Henry (Chambers-Parillon 66), Brannagan, Sykes, Shodipo (Agyei 81), Taylor (Winnall 81), Barker.

Unused subs: Eastwood, Grayson, Kelly.

Booked: Stevens, Hanson.

Lincoln City (4-3-3): Palmer, Poole, Montsma, Eyoma, Bramall, Bridcutt (Jones 39), McGrandles, Edun, Anderson (Howarth 79), Scully, Rogers.

Unused subs: Long, Archibald, Roughan.

Booked: Edun.

Referee: Scott Oldham (Lancashire).