Oxford United made a statement of intent in their bid for a play-off spot in League One on Saturday afternoon, as they overcame fellow promotion hopefuls Burton Albion in a 3-1 victory.
Both teams are up near the right end of the table and both will fancy their chances at perhaps trying to launch a push for promotion to the second tier this season. However, it was the away side who came away with another valuable three points in their bid for a top six spot, thanks to goals from Matty Taylor, Nathan Holland and James Henry.
Quiz: Did these 25 Burton Albion transfers actually happen?
Oxford got off to a flying start too, with Matty Taylor firing the visitors into the lead before there was even a minute on the clock. A mistake from Frazer Blake-Tracey put the striker through on goal and the 31-year-old took his chance smartly to give his side the lead.
The forward found success throughout the game from feeding off plenty of through balls and balls over the top from his team-mates and he had another chance only just dealt with again not too long after.
Karl Robinson’s side continued to pressure the Burton box, with Cameron Brannagan going one-on-one with the Brewers goalkeeper only to have his effort well saved. A few moments later it was the midfielder again who was threatening the home side’s goal, only this time he forced an even better save from Ben Garratt, who tipped the ball onto the post.
Oxford were without usual goalkeeper Jack Stevens heading into the tie and instead plumped for Simon Eastwood in-between the sticks but Burton failed to test him too much in the opening half. Harry Chapman worked the ball well on the right and fed it to Tom O’Connor who fizzed the ball narrowly wide before the former had a chance himself from the edge of the box, only to send it sailing just narrowly over the bar.
Ultimately though, it was the away side who managed to break through again just before the half-time whistle. Sam Long floated the ball in towards Nathan Holland whose shot, after a deflection from Michael Bostwick, found its way into the net to give Oxford a two-goal cushion going into the break.
Oxford started the second half brightly too. James Henry saw an early chance well saved before firing a ball into the box and seeing it cleared away. Burton managed to get hold of the ball a lot more but couldn’t create many chances from their possession, with a Kane Hemmings mis-kick and a few scrambles in the box the most of their efforts before Tom Hamer saw a shot well blocked.
The away side continued to push though and a superb run down the left from James Henry nearly resulted in a third for his team, only for Garratt to get a hand to his shot to tip it away. Matty Taylor was next to cause some danger for Karl Robinson’s side, as he found himself in acres of space. Breaking towards Burton’s box, he fizzed the ball in but the Brewers managed to see it away again.
Burton though did manage to finally break through and put some pressure on the away side heading into the final ten minutes of the game. Some excellent work by Harry Chapman on the wing helped him break past the defence and loft a ball into Charlie Lakin, who sliced a volley into the top corner.
However, the optimism wasn’t to last for the Brewers. A few moments later, Matty Taylor again found himself clean through and after being brought down in the box, the away side were given the chance to wrap up the three points by adding a third. James Henry cooly obliged to gift his side another two-goal cushion and the three points, as Karl Robinson’s side surged into the play-off places.