November 18 2008 . . . Oxford United fans may come to remember that date as the day Sam Deering came of age.

The teenage midfielder gave a quite remarkable display of maturity, character and energy to help pull the game out of the fire at Dorchester and keep the U's in the FA Cup.

Although it was very much a team effort which brought United their 3-1 extra-time first-round replay victory, Deering's part in it was highly significant, and he drew praise from both relieved chairman Kelvin Thomas and delighted boss Darren Patterson.

After disappointing away performances in the league, and their well-publicised failings in front of goal, there was huge pressure on United and Patterson in this match.

Many teams would have gone under as they trailed late into the second half.

But James Constable's 77th-minute leveller dug them out of the mire, and goals from substitutes Phil Trainer and Yemi Odubade in extra time sealed a memorable win.

Tellingly, midway through the second half when United were crying out for someone to grab the occasion by the horns and make something happen, up stepped Deering.

In one or two previous games, his performance level had dipped, which of course happens with players of his age.

But Patterson bravely stuck by him, and when everyone else was on his last legs on the energy-sapping ground in extra time, the young Cockney was making terrific runs, and orchestrating attacks.

Chairman Thomas said afterwards: "There was a lot of pressure on us in that game, and the boys showed tremendous character in coming through, especially after going a goal down.

"The best thing about that performance was that it wasn't about pretty football or knocking it around, it was about pure battle, getting amongst it, and a couple of the boys - Adam Murray and Sam Deering were absolutely magnificent in that midfield."

The £20,000 prizemoney for reaching the second round is vital to United, who are still finding it very hard each quarter to pay the massive Kassam Stadium rent.

"It was a big win," Thomas acknowledged. "Hopefully we can build on that and get a bit of confidence back in the squad."

Patterson said: "Once we got the goal, we changed the shape a bit and it worked really well. Little Sam was in the hole with three up front and it was very effective. They played like a diamond and it stopped Dorchester's No 4 (Danny Clay) playing."

Some fans had questioned whether Patterson would remain in charge of the team, had they lost at Dorchester, but these FA Cup ties are tough ones to get through.

"The game had been hyped up, understandably so,” Patterson added.

“I don't think anybody could deny that over the two games, we deserved to get through."