Jamie Mackie grabbed a late goal for Oxford United this weekend as they climbed out of the bottom four in League One.
Karl Robinson’s side have struggled all season against the dreaded drop, but a vital three points against fellow relegation candidates Bradford City ensured that they’re now in a good position to mount a serious survival challenge.
33-year-old Mackie is slowly sliding down the leagues after playing much of his football in the top two divisions. He turned out for Plymouth in the Championship and even had some time in the top flight with Queens Park Rangers.
He signed a two-year deal with Oxford in the summer, perhaps hoping to see them at the top end of League One. The quality in their squad certainly pointed to a promotion challenge, but it hasn’t panned out that way.
He grabbed only his fifth goal in 34 league outings for the U’s this weekend, but it could well prove to be the most important.
A quick goal kick resulted in a sweeping move up the field and ended with Gavin Whyte’s effort being saved, only for Mackie to pounce and bury the loose ball.
Mackie must have been worried in the aftermath though. The referee seemed to disallow the goal and award a Bradford penalty, then a goal kick to replace the quickly taken one.
Finally, he relented and awarded the goal. The scenes were farcical and of the 74 goals Mackie has in his Football League career, this must have been the most drawn out and controversial.
Having come on as a sub and seen his first team chance fade recently, he’ll be delighted it was allowed.
It could ensure his side remain in League One and that he also remains a third-tier player.
The promotion challenge might not have come, but at 33-years-old Jamie Mackie still has plenty to offer and he must feel his goal has given him every chance of proving himself outside the basement division.