Happiness is . . . a goal at last!

Phil Trainer broke Oxford United's long goal drought with a real Christmas cracker at the Kassam Stadium on Boxing Day.

The left-sided midfielder, recalled to Oxford's starting line-up, smashed a brilliant 15-yard angled drive into the top right corner just a minute into the second half after good build-up play.

It was United's first goal for 607 minutes - just over ten hours - and the roar of celebration that echoed around the ground contained an understandable element of relief.

But Darren Patterson's team were then indebted to goalkeeper Billy Turley, back in the side after a shoulder injury, for three outstanding saves in the last few minutes to earn Oxford a first home league win since September.

It was one of Turley's finest ever performances in an Oxford United shirt, and there have been many good ones.

Fears that United's recent slump would be reflected in their lowest Boxing Day gate for more than 20 years proved unfounded.

Despite Crawley bringing just 96 fans, the attendance was just below 6,000, and more than the crowd two seasons ago.

Patterson had returned to his old midfield of Carl Pettefer and Eddie Hutchinson in the centre, and Phil Trainer out on the left.

Barry Quinn dropped back to renew his familiar central defensive partnership with Luke Foster and Billy Turley was back in goal.

Typically strong defending by Foster halted one early Crawley attack and that fierce determination was to be replicated by many of his teammates throughout the game.

Trainer found space to get in a powerful 25-yard drive, which seemed to swerve somewhat in mid-air as keeper Ashley Bayes had to suddenly readjust before saving.

Quinn needed treatment after a hefty challenge and in the opening 25 minutes Yemi Odubade was twice caught offside after mistiming his runs, with the visitors playing a very high line.

There were a couple of strong claims for a penalty from the home fans, first when Eddie Hutchinson felt he had been pushed as Alex Jeannin crossed beautifully from the left, and the second for a possible handball in a crowded box, but the ref, well-positioned on both occasions, insisted on playing on.

The U's did create one very good opening. Odubade released Joel Ledgister on the right wing but he delayed his cross slightly, and when he did deliver it to Rob Duffy near the penalty spot, the striker was tightly marked and his shot deflected over.

As half-time approached with very little happening, United passed the ten-hour mark since their last goal, at Kidderminster on November 24.

But just 60 seconds into the second half, with the U's now attacking towards the Oxford Mail Stand, and the unthinkable happened . . . they scored!

Matt Day hit a long free-kick which Hutchinson flicked on, Duffy laid the ball back and Trainer drove majestically into the top right corner from 15 yards out on the left side of the area.

Patterson had changed to a 4-3-3 for the second half, with Odubade on the right and they seemed to relish the extra room in which to play.

Fifteen minutes later and Trainer showed his value to the side again with another fine effort at goal. He cut in from the left, past two defenders, before drilling a low right-footed shot just past Bayes's left post.

Inevitably, Crawley pressed hard for an equaliser, and they really should have got it 13 minutes from time when substitute Pierre Joseph-Dubois collected a pass in acres of space 16 yards out.

He turned and shot but Turley just got his fingertips to the effort to divert it over the bar.

Turley then made two unbelievable saves to deny ex-Reading striker Joseph-Dubois again.

On 82 minutes he produced a fantastic save from the Frenchman, and three minutes later, as Crawley were camped in and around United's box, he stuck out his right arm to miraculously divert his shot for a corner.

There was disbelief when the fourth official held up his board to reveal five additional minutes of stoppage time, but United were never troubled again, and they held on for a very, very welcome three points.