Oxford United hit form at just the right time this evening as two goals from Nathan Holland, two from Matty Taylor and one from James Henry earned them an emphatic 5-0 win over AFC Wimbledon at the Kassam Stadium.
United dominated the entire 90 minutes and in truth should have been home and hosed inside the first 15, with overworked visiting keeper Joe Day twice making tremendous close-range stops to deny the usually predatory Taylor: the first a header tipped over the top, the second a low drive parried from ten yards out.
United kept coming at them though, as the creative skills of Marcus Browne and Holland tore the visiting defence apart, with Browne driving forward from a deeper midfield role and Holland tormenting his full back from out wide. United have a star in the making in the on-loan West Ham youngster, who now has three goals for the U's and grows in confidence with each game.
Other than a first-minute header, there was little to trouble the unflappable Simon Eastwood at the other end until a sloppy pass from Mark Sykes woke Eastwood, who was swiftly off the mark to beat Joe Pigott to the loose ball after 25 minutes,but Taylor really should have scored soon after when he beat three defenders, the keeper and then, crucially, himself after a slip by central defender Terrell Thomas had left him with a run at goal.
The great thing about Taylor is that he doesn't let things like that affect him and his moment wasn’t too long in coming, the missed chances forgotten about with the opening goal. Henry is at the heart of so much for the U’s and he made reaching the byline look far easier than it really was before slipping the ball across for Taylor, who slid in to score his 11th of the season (from Henry’s sixth assist).
Two minutes later and the Wombles were going to need to do a lot of tidying up when Holland made it two. Mark Sykes, terrific all night, burst past a pretty half-hearted challenge and slipped a neat ball into the path of Holland,who hammered the ball across Day and into the top left corner for his second goal in United colours.
The Dons needed an early goal after the break but instead it was United wombling three as Henry nipped ahead of Taylor at the top of the scoring charts once again, ironically by taking a Taylor pass in his stride and then dinking it over the keeper, who by that stage really wasn't getting much help from those immediately in front of him.
United were rampant and Browne smashed a ferocious effort against the post before Holland underlined his potential once again by racing on to a ball over the top and stabbing it past the helpless Day to make it 4-0 and game over with half an hour still to go.
There were plenty more efforts; United managed 22 shots at goal, 517 passes and had 60 per cent of the possession, and Dan Agyei and the excellent Cameron Brannagan went close before a highly entertaining last minute scramble that saw the ball hacked off the line.
There was still time for Taylor to make it 5-0 as we ticked into injury time, volleying yet another assist from Henry past the startled Day and United had looked good. A win, five goals, a clean sheet and three points. What's not to like?
Now they need to use this performance as a launchpad for one last surge. 13 to go. You never know...
See you at Ipswich on Saturday.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Daniels and Tom Melvin, stats by OPTA