James Constable made Shrewsbury pay for letting him go with two cracking goals as Oxford United returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion tonight.

Both were with his left foot, and on each occasion, the sheer power of the shot left goalkeeper Ben Smith helpless.

Like Constable, Asa Hall also scored against his old club, and for him there was great relief as it was his first Oxford goal, on his 27th appearance.

This was an impressive victory against a good Shrewsbury side, who were fourth in the table at the start of play.

Hall, who had played 13 games while on loan to the Shrews, opened the scoring in the 11th minute.

Graham Turner’s side equalised midway through the first half, with a deflected goal, but there was to be no denying the irrepressible Constable, who struck with power and precision after 59 and 76 minutes for his 11th and 12th goals of the season.

Both teams were unchanged, something of a rarity in itself, with Chris Wilder choosing the fit-again Alfie Potter among his subs, ahead of Matt Green.

The Shrews had the better of the early play and from their second corner, Craig Disley’s flicked header grazed the foot of the post.

Simon Clist’s useful left-wing cross was met by Hall, running in, but he was unable to control it.

Tom Craddock has been in a rich vein of form, scoring in United’s last four games, and he must have fancied his chances of making it five in a row when he broke free on the right edge of the area on nine minutes.

With just keeper Ben Smith to beat, he drove his angled shot across the face of the goal and wide of the far post.

But two minutes later and the U’s were ahead.

Constable pulled the ball back from the right bye-line for Hall 20 yards out, and he drove in a cracking shot, that beat Smith for pace.

United consolidated that lead, apart from a couple of scares, one when James Collins almost nipped in to score, by passing the ball well and showing plenty of movement.

But after Clist lost possession in the 26th minute, it proved costly.

Shrewsbury moved the ball from right to left, and midfielder Mark Wright’s right-footed shot took a big deflection to beat Clarke and make it 1-1.

That now made it 21 games since United’s last clean sheet!

Hall had another shooting opportunity, after some fine build-up play, when the ball was laid back into his path by Steve MacLean, but this time his low shot fizzed past the right post.

There was controversy near the end of the first half when Damian Batt got behind the visitors’ defence and appeared to have been tripped just inside the area by Kevin McIntyre.

The linesman close by had signalled for a corner but referee Steve Tanner pointed to the spot, only to then be persuaded by Shrewsbury players to speak to his assistant.

The ref strolled over, and after a brief discussion, he changed his mind and awarded a corner.

U’s boss Wilder made his displeasure known to the fourth official.

Oxford resumed their pressing and forced Shrewsbury onto the back foot in the second half.

Clist saw his fierce drive turned aside for a corner by a smart save from Smith, and from Paul McLaren’s corner, Hall glanced a header narrowly wide.

Attacking towards the Oxford Mail end, the U’s were now firmly in the ascendancy, and an excellent run and cross by Batt, resulted in another shot by Clist, this time straight at the keeper, because the ball wouldn’t come down for him.

However, just before the hour mark, Constable fired United back in front.

It was a fluffed clearance by a Shrews defender which presented him with half a chance, and he swivelled and fired home left-footed from 14 yards.

Hall went off with 20 minutes to go, and Potter, rather than Simon Heslop or Josh Payne, who took over from him.

And Potter was soon in the thick of it, jinking inside and hitting a low shot that the keeper got behind.

Constable, who had scored four goals in his seven starts for Shrewsbury before their ex-boss Paul Simpson allowed him to go, to join Oxford.

And the centre forward showed he could more than handle League Two with a brilliant finish with 14 minutes remaining.

He was some way out, at a tight angle on the left, but pulled the trigger and his low shot arrowed past Smith and into the bottom right corner of the goal.

It was the second time this season that United had struck three goals at home in the league, and they are nicely back in the groove.