Oxford United guaranteed their League 1 safety this afternoon when goals from Kyle Joseph, Tyler Goodrham and Billy Bodin eased them to a 3-0 win at Forest Green Rovers.
A side that had been struggling for goals has now scored seven in two games and will deservedly play at this level again after turning round a run where they didn't win for 17 games.
Today United simply picked up where they left off in the previous game when they were rampant in the second half against Cheltenham. This time they dominated the entire game against Duncan Ferguson’s already relegated Rovers and could easily have won by an even greater margin.
There was an early header from Ciaron Brown comfortably held by home keeper Ross Doohan, but then the keeper was helpless when Joseph blasted the U’s into a priceless lead that settled nerves and knocked any early fight our of their hosts.
Slipped the ball by the excellent Marcus McGuane, Joseph bullied his way past a defender and then smashed the ball home to send the travelling army into plant-based delight.
Marcus Browne’s piledriver flew just wide, Bodin twice tried his luck from similar distance, and the intensity and work rate were evident as Simon Eastwood was given 45 minutes to enjoy the glorious Gloucestershire sunshine rather than have to make a save.
Goodrham came on at half time for Browne and within 50 seconds he had dispelled any thoughts of second-half anxiety. United penned the home side back in the corner and in the end their chasing paid off when Goodrham won the ball back. He then won a key challenge, looked up, and lifted a magnificent effort over the stranded Doohan, busy Doohan nothing, to give whoever made the Goal of the Season compilation at tomorrow night's awards dinner a BIG headache.
In the lead up, Ferguson had complained of his side losing battles and United's two goals had both come from their players being that little bit stronger in the challenge.
His side finally created a chance after 57 minutes, but Eastwood was equal to Tyrese Omotoye's sliding effort and that was about it for them as a threat.
On 58 minutes Bodin rivalled Goodrham's spectacular effort when he fired over the despairing Doohan for a wonderful third goal; Bodin's return has been instrumental in United's survival.
A superb effort from all concerned: players and fans united. Winning two 'must-win' games in a row takes some doing, and the spirit and fight on display should give hope for the future. It's not truly a reason to celebrate is it? Avoiding relegation (barring a freak result on Sunday)? But I think we should....
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Darrell Fisher, Steve Daniels, Steve Edmunds and Rex Shutterstock