Full-time report as United win at the County Ground
Liam Sercombe and Rob Hall became the latest names to become part of derby folklore as Oxford United came from behind to beat Swindon Town at the County Ground. The pair netted second-half goals to cancel out a Fankaty Dabo opener and give the U's a double over their local rivals while stretching their unbeaten run against them for another year but also putting another important three league points on the board.
There was no quarter asked or given, with Ryan Ledson’s nose broken by a stray elbow within 30 seconds and Phil Edwards thundering into a 50/50 challenge as though his life depended on it in the fourth minute.
Ajose and Norris planted early efforts into the packed away fans with Maguire slicing one wide at the other end and Ledson having the first effort on target with a volley on 13 that home keeper Lawrence Vigouroux caught comfortably.
It was full blooded but the first goal of the afternoon came the way of the Robins. United were their own worst enemies, twice having the opportunity to clear an innocuous ball in their own half and then slow to come out and close down Dabo as he lined up a shot 25 yards out. That costs them dear when Dabo let fly with a low strike that bounced once as it flew past Eastwood and into the bottom left corner to make it 1-0.
United rarely panic if they concede the first goal and from that moment on grew more and more into the game. Liam Sercombe, starting in a wide role, drifted inside to trick his way past three men and stab another effort at Vigouroux on the half-hour mark. Swindon have been guilty of losing their discipline in this fixture in recent years and were throwing themselves into one or two stereotypically agricultural challenges, with Norris and Jones both booked and their three centre halves taking it in turn to introduce debutant Toni Martinez to the more physical side of English football.
The Spaniard avoided their attention with a neat turn on 36 and a snapshot the flew just wide and with Lundstram and Ledson starting to run the midfield United were coming more and more into the game as half time approached. Rob Hall rode three weak challenges to free Sercombe just before half time only for the final touch to take Sercombe just too close to the sprawling keeper.
A goal down but still in the game, United were indebted to Eastwood for an outstanding save from Charlie Colkett right on half time but poured forward at the start of the second half with Maguire and Sercombe both unable to find the net from decent positions just wide of the left-hand post. The Robins seemed happy to concede ground and invite the U's to find a way of breaking them down, all the while aware that the pace of Nicky Ajose could spring them in on Eastwoood's goal should the visitors over commit.
It was a dangerous game to play and on 70 minutes United scored the goal they had been threatening. Maguire, of course, was the architect with a cute through ball inside the right back for the flying Marvin Johnson. Previously his crosses had eluded the strikers but this time he reached the line and sent the ball to the back post where Sercombe got just enough on the ball to roll it into the empty net and spark wild scenes in the stands behind that goal.
Three minutes later and Hall provoked absolute bedlam with yet another wonderful goal. A threat all afternoon, and improving week after week, Hall was left in too much space as he danced past two defenders and worked it to his left. Swindon stood off and Hall unleashed a drive that was past Vigouroux in a flash to put United into a 2-1 lead.
Swindon were beaten, and they knew it. Some of their fans who were not even born the last time they won this fixture will be able to vote by the next one. But more pertinently United had won away in the league once more and in an extraordinary week have now beaten Newcastle United in the FA Cup, moved to within one game of Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy and beaten their nearest and not so dearest rivals in the league. Has there ever been a better week?
Swindon's miserable afternoon was complete and United's joy unbound when Vigouroux was sent off in injury time when he rushed too far from home and brought down Hemmings. Surely the only keeper ever sent off in two derbies?
Heroes in yellow all over the pitch, rightly acclaimed by their ecstatic fans. What a time to be an Oxford fan...
Away: Magnificent. (Number to follow)
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels and Darrell Fisher, stats by OPTA
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