Oxford United moved level with the play-off places when they came from a goal down to beat Lincoln City 2-1 at the Kassam Stadium tonight. Trailing to an early Tony Scully goal, United leveled through sub Anthony Forde and then saw top scorer Matty Taylor earn them all three points as he tapped home his 14th goal of the season.
James Henry, back in the side after injury and outstanding until he tired afer an hour, floated in an early free kick which Rob Atkinson headed wide, but United were behind inside three minutes when the Imps overloaded the left-hand side, Morgan Rogers rolled in Tayo Edun and Scully rolled the ball past the helpless Jack Stevens from six yards out.
United didn’t panic after the early setback and began to play their way back into the game. Chances started to come. Henry rifled a decent effort just wide after 18 minutes and then blasted a second effort through the fingers of keeper Alex Palmer before the ball was cleared by covering defender Lewis Montsma.
They should have been level soon after when a clever corner routine set up Ruffels for a shot which Palmer pushed away, and as Jamie Hanson and Atkinson converged a nudge by Harry Anderson sent Hanson into Atkinson and meant the chance was missed. Ruffels limped off after twisting for the first effort but on 28 the U's were deservedly level as his replacement Forde scored with his first touch.
A corner was headed forward by Elliott Moore. Taylor protected it, Moore stabbed at goal again and when the ball ran for Forde he drove it past Palmer to make it 1-1.
United were perhaps fortunate when Stevens upended Anderson just before the break, receiving a yellow card and saving the free kick to rub salt into Lincoln’s wounds, but they had shown a bit of spirit to get back into the game and deserved parity at half time.
Ten minutes into the second half they were ahead. Henry paved the way by first winning the ball and then whipping in a superb cross which Mark Sykes headed at goal. Palmer palmed and Taylor, as usual, was in the right place to put the rebound into the net for a typical Taylor goal.
Now it was Lincoln's turn to try and retaliate. Stevens got down well to save a James Jones drive then raced off his line to stop Scully but United were defending well; Jamie Hanson rattled into tackles with his usual enthusiasm and Cameron Brannagan did a terrific job just in front of the back four.
Hanson hammered a header wide on 78, Barker forced Palmer into a save on 87, but Lincoln had faded after the break and most of the TV audience would probably have said that in the end the better team won.
A terrific win and great character to beat a side that have been above them all season, especially after going a goal down so early.
Nine to go. You never know...
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels, stats by OPTA