United march on at the top of League 2 after a convincing home win over Morecambe. First-half goals from James Constable
, Sean Rigg
and Ryan Williams
did the trick as United killed the game off before the break.
The U's made two changes to the side that started at Mansfield the week before, with Constable and Asa Hall replacing the injured Deane Smalley
and Andy Whing
. Constable, having bagged his hundredth goal for the club last week might have made it 101 as early as the third minute as he fired over after Dave Kitson
had put a defender under pressure and won the ball, although it took a superb block by the ever-reliable David Hunt
to block a Kevin Ellison shot two minutes later as the visitors engineered their first chance.
The one thing you know about Constable is that one miss doesn't discourage him and after 15 minutes he was on hand to notch 101. A foul on Ryan Williams
gave United a free kick on the right, level with the penalty spot. Hunt's beautifully flighted free-kick invited a header and the excellent Raynes obliged with a powerful effort from ten yards out. Keeper Barry Roche parried but the ball bounced on to the knee of Constable to roll gently into the net and give United a 1-0 lead.
United deserved that lead and Hall and Williams both put efforts over the fence from the edge of the box as the U's continued to press in the first 20 minutes. It was no surprise when they doubled the lead on 24 minutes. Again Hunt was the instigator with a magnificent ball over the top of the left-back for Williams to sprint clear. He made for the goal-line then squared the ball for the sliding Rigg to finish from close range and score his second goal in two games.
Rigg's first home league goal for the club was reward for another impressive performance from the pacey left-winger and with Kitson flitting all over the place and probing the Morecambe defence, Williams skinning his full back and Hall and Danny Rose
dominating midfield, United were in complete control.
On 31 minutes they were 3-0 up as Williams chipped in their third. Morecambe caused their own downfall with a suicidal pass across their defence which the alert Hall was on to in a flash. With men either side of him he slipped the ball to his right where Williams roared away once more. Roche went to ground and Williams cutely lifted the ball over him to finish with real style.
It could have been 4-0 on 36 as Hall flicked on another Hunt corner and saw the ball bounce away off the bar, but 3-0 was a decent enough scoreline after the most commanding first half of the season.
Morecambe had offered little threat in the first 45 minutes but stepped things up after the break and Jack Sampson struck the post just before the hour mark with their best effort, but Raynes, Hunt, captain Johnny Mullins
and Tom Newey
formed a formidable barrier in front of the faultless Clarke. When called into action in the 65th minute Clarke was equal to it with a smart save down to his left from sub Marcus Marshall's well-struck effort.
The one concern for the already injury-affected U's came just after the hour when Rigg's impressive afternoon ended early through injury as he shot at goal - possibly karma as Constable had an open goal if the ball had been squared. On came home-grown Callum O'Dowda
to provide the width on that side as Morecambe opened up a little and tried to claw something out of the game but it was already a forlorn hope.
The damage had been done in that first half allowing United to canter through the closing stages with a masterclass from Kitson, who moved around the pitch like a quarterback and created chaos wherever he went.
Around him the other ten players showed great professionalism and currently have a swagger and belief that comes with being top. There is still a long way to go but things are going well and the Yellows are on a roll.
Over in the away end a lone Morecambe trumpeter played 'Bring Me Sunshine'. Right now, even on a freezing November afternoon, that sun is shining on Oxford United.
Fifty/50 winning number 310448 wins £968.50
Report by Chris Williams, Pictures Steve Daniels, Stats by OPTA
See Highlights and Reaction in Yellow Player