Oxford entered the tie after consecutive losses away to Accrington and Burton and consequently slipped dangerously close to the relegation zone, whilst a midweek win for Mansfield against Luton saw them leapfrog Oxford in the Sky Bet League Two table.

The first half was a flat affair, with United’s free-flowing football being hindered by the state of the Kassam pitch. Mansfield looked bright on the counterattack but failed to muster any clear-cut chances. The closest they came was a Heslop long range effort (all too familiar to Oxford fans) which deflected just wide of Clarke’s left post. Perhaps this was a warning shot for the U’s but it was not to be for Mansfield as it was Alex MacDonald who opened his Oxford United account. Fantastic wide play by Baldock saw him burst free and his cross – missed by Pidgeley – landed at the feet of MacDonald who buried the half volley. This signalled the end of the first half and United were perhaps lucky to be ahead as it was a very flat affair, but nevertheless they went in one goal to the good.

The second half was full of flair and exciting interchanges all of which coming from the home side. Mansfield looked lost and failed to deal with a scramble which eventually found its way once more to MacDonald who rifled home on 55′. Oxford were dominant and fluent and the contest was all but concluded on 64′ when Patrick Hoban was tumbled in the area. Alex MacDonald immediately searched for the ball but was pushed away by U’s top scorer and rightful penalty taker Hylton. The striker stepped up and coolly tucked away his penalty, wrong footing Pidgeley. 3-0 the scoreline read and Oxford came very close to a fourth as substitute Roberts chased a backpass which deflected off him when Pidgeley nervously cleared and the ball bounced just wide.

United then saw the game out professionally and stood strong defensively. Mansfield failed to register a shot on goal in the second half which signifies the host’s dominance. A much needed win and lift for Oxford which sees them move to six points clear of the trap door. For Mansfield however, they remain four points clear of the drop and will be looking to build on this performance which they never really got going in.

Oxford United

 Ryan Clarke – Had very little to do all game but dealt with the conditions well and kept a well deserved clean sheet 7.0
 George Baldock – Making his home début, the brother-of-Sam put in a marvellous shift. He showed great attacking intent and really impressed 8.0
 Johnny Mullins – Mullins dealt with Oliver really well and rarely lost an aerial contest. Much needed clean sheet and a much improved performance 7.5
 Jake Wright – Wasn’t involved as much as Mullins but put in a couple of excellent challenges and helped maintain the defensive stability that has been lacking in recent weeks 7.0
 Sam Long – The makeshift left back shrugged off a nervous start and once he settled down he played brilliantly. The teenage left flank consisting of Long and O’Dowda linked up very well. 7.0
 Alex MacDonald – The winger opened his U’s account with a brace and was a real handful all afternoon. Topped off with a man of the match award. Terrific 8.5
 Michael Collins – Showed great tenacity off the ball and a real hunger. This helped achieve the high levels of possession Oxford maintained in the second half 7.5
 Josh Ruffels – Ruffels showed superb work ethic and really put in a good shift. Much improved. 7.0
 Callum O’Dowda – The spritely youngster proved to be a real nuisance all afternoon. His jinking run set up the second goal and his link-up play with Long was promising 8.0
 Danny Hylton – I feel like I am repeating myself week-in-week-out but Hylton’s work rate is just superb. He chased everything down and linked up nicely with everyone around him. Another super performance from Hylton and another goal to his name 8.0
 Pat Hoban – Showed superb hold up play and two of the goals were down to his clever forward play. He has been desperately unlucky not to score for Oxford yet but he is continuing to do the right things 8.5

Substitutions

 James Roberts – Unlucky not to score, the youngster had a busy game once coming on. He was involved heavily in his cameo appearance 7.0
 Kemar Roofe – The debutant showed lots of flair and good technical ability during his brief cameo role 7.0
 Andy Whing – Was not on long enough to make an impact after coming on very late on for the injured Michael Collins 6.0

 

Mansfield Town

 Lennie Pidgeley – Had a very nervous game. He was largely at fault for the first goal after missing a cross and his dispatch was poor 4.0
 Richie Sutton – Did well containing O’Dowda in the first half but was at fault for Oxford’s second goal 6.0
 Ryan Tafazoli – The once Oxford trialist had a tough day at the office. He scored the opener in the return fixture but could not muster any of the same on Saturday and gave away a penalty 6.0
 Callum Elder – Had a similar game to Tafazoli. Made a couple of important blocks but will be really disappointed to concede three goals 6.5
 Martin Riley – Stepped up to the plate when called for but ultimately had a tough game against the MacDonald-Baldock partnership 6.0
 Jeffrey Monakana – Caused a bit of trouble in the first half but the game past him for large spells in the second 5.0
 Jack Thomas – Looked lively and hungry but failed to inspire Mansfield to a credible performance. Forced off at half time 7.0
 Ricky Ravenhill – Showed good work rate and was involved in a fiesty midfield duel with Collins. 6.5
 Simon Heslop – Had a very good first half and was involved frequently, perhaps being unlucky not to score. However the second half past him and he was ineffectual 7.0
 Junior Brown – He seems a slightly unorthodox winger. He never seems to drive at fullbacks but is involved heavily and shows good link up play. 6.5
 Vadaine Oliver – Was played out of the game by Mullins and had a very poor game. 5.0

Substitutions

 Reggie Lambe – Replaced Brown and didn’t effect the game in his brief cameo role 5.0
 Rakish Bingham – Did not effect the game in Mansfield’s favour but it was a spritely appearance 6.0
 Billy Kee – Was not on long enough to impact the game 5.0

 

Man of the Match

Alex MacDonald – The winger showed great tenacity and forward play. He was duly rewarded with a brace and he was a real handful all game. 8.5

Highlights

*All Images Belong to Oxford United; @OUFCOfficial


About Author

Aspiring sports journalist from Oxford. Also a lifelong supporter and season ticket holder of Oxford United. My job here is to supply brief match reports and player ratings of Oxford United players and the teams they oppose.