Tom Craddock showed exactly why Oxford United splashed out for him on deadline day with a brilliantly-taken goal at Edgar Street today.

The former Middlesbrough and Luton striker had had a quiet game, and some were wondering whether he might be the one to make way when Alfie Potte was introduced as a substitute midway through the second half.

Instead it was Matt Green who went off, and moments later, from Josh Payne’s slipped pass, Craddock beat his man with a great first touch, and then sent a 15-yard shot, with the outside of his right foot, past keeper Adam Bartlett and in off the far post.

James Constable had put Chris Wilder’s team ahead ten minutes before half-time, and they were good value for their first away win of the season.

Another strong defensive showing gave them a fifth clean sheet in their six League games so far.

Mark Creighton came in for his Football League debut because of Jake Wright’s back problem, otherwise it was the same team after last Saturday’s 4-0 win over Morecambe.

Oxford started strongly, with Constable getting free on the right of the area to send over a deep cross that Tom Craddock met with his head.

But United’s newest signing couldn’t get anything on it, and keeper Adam Bartlett hardly had to make a save worthy of the name.

Craddock showed great calmness in possession as he carried the ball 50 yards before releasing a simple pass to Asa Hall, who blazed way over the bar from distance.

Hereford had a chance in the ninth minute when big striker Mathieu Manset headed on and Joe Colbeck, at the back post, drilled a shot across the face of the goal.

The Bulls then exerted some pressure and Manset had a powerful drive deflect wide.

In between this, the U’s were finding space when they attacked, and Josh Payne was not far away with a dipping 25-yard shot which dropped just over the bar.

And when the visitors put together a fine move, involving seven or right crisp passes, Hall again finished it with a shot, hard enough, but straight into Bartlett’s stomach.

Pressing well, Oxford were starting to dominate, and the chances began to increase.

Constable had a shot blocked by the keeper and then, from Simon Heslop’s right-wing corner, the skipper frustratingly saw his on-goal header hit teammate Tom Craddock.

But there was to be no denying Constable in the 35th minute after Hereford centre half O’Neill Thompson charged upfield on a hopeful attack – and then couldn’t get back!

Heslop drove forward in the centre of the park, sprayed a pass out to his right to Matt Green, and Green crossed low for Constable to knock the ball home, at the second attempt, from a couple of yards out.

A couple of good blocks by Harry Worley helped United keep their goal in tact at the start of the second half, when Ben Purkiss picked up a booking for a late challenge.

The contest became scrappy for a while, but Craddock’s goal totally finished whatever resistance Hereford had.

They had been hitting the ball long so often, bypassing midfield, but were getting nowhere with it.

When Dan Stratford did manage a decent shot, in the 80th minute, it brought ironic cheers from the Hereford fans, who have yet to see their side score at home this season.

Constable, and Craddock, might have added further goals late on, but it was still an emphatic win.

Oxford Utd: Clarke, Purkiss, Worley, Creighton, Tonkin, Heslop, Payne (Bulman 79), Hall, Green (Potter 62), Constable (Midson 84), Craddock. Subs not used: Baker, Deering, Eastwood, Franks.

Booked: Purkiss.

Referee: Rob Lewis (Shropshire).

Att: 2,980 (967 from Oxford).