Oxford boss Des Buckingham felt the heavy schedule of three games in six days took its toll on his team as they were held 1-1 by Stevenage at the Kassam Stadium.

It means it is effectively no longer in Oxford’s hands to reach the League One play-offs because Lincoln are three points behind them with a game in hand and a superior goal difference.

Buckingham felt the decision not to award the U’s a penalty when Marcus Browne appeared to have been fouled by keeper Craig MacGillivray in the first half was crucial.

They had to come from behind as Stevenage went in front through a Sam Long own goal in the 32nd minute, Cameron Brannagan replying from the penalty spot on 58 minutes when Carl Piergianni fouled Ruben Rodrigues – though that appeared to have been outside the box.

Buckingham said: “To play three games in six days is a big ask.

“We had 26 shots but couldn’t get that second goal we needed.

“There was a clear penalty not given in the first half, and for us that’s the second game in a row that one hasn’t been given when it should have been. It was a huge moment in the game, and very frustrating.

“The referee told me he couldn’t see it, but the linesman was only 15 yards away and had a clear view.

“I’m delighted with the performance but ultimately we’ve got just the four points from these three home games, now we need to make sure we prepare right and get three in the last one at Exeter.

“When we looked to rearrange the Lincoln game we chose this week because it was a free week, then Sky told us they wanted to bring this Stevenage one forward and show it on the Friday night which meant three games in six days.

“There was nothing we could do about it, but had we known they were going to do that, we would have played the Lincoln game another week.

“It’s going to be a tight finish – I wouldn’t rule out Blackpool either, and they’ve got to play Barnsley.”

Stevenage had lost manager Steve Evans in the week, with Evans heading north to become Rotherham boss.

Caretaker boss Alex Revell said: “Steve always had two clubs very much in his heart – this one and Rotherham. Believe me, making the decision was probably the hardest thing he’s had to do, he said.

“I wanted to take today and make the players ready. I really enjoyed it because they gave everything.

“I’m very proud of what the lads did tonight.

“We had a great day yesterday in terms of training and getting ready and trying to get a few bits into them.

“They came to a really tough place and worked so hard for each other.

“In spells we created some half-chances, probably not enough, but it was about showing our togetherness as a club and our spirit.

“I think we showed why we have caused teams problems this season, especially with our energy and our workrate.

“The first penalty shout against us was a penalty and should have been given so we got away with that.

“But it doesn’t mean that something that started outside the box should be a penalty. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Oxford United boss Des Buckingham described his team’s 5-0 win over play-off rivals Peterborough as “without doubt the most enjoyable experience of my time here”.

Ruben Rodrigues scored twice with the other goals from a Mark Harris penalty, Josh Murphy and substitute Billy Bodin.

It took Oxford’s tally to 13 goals without reply in their last three games and puts them five points clear of Lincoln, who visit the Kassam Stadium on Tuesday night.

Murphy was the star of the show, destroying Posh in the first half, while Owen Dale and Greg Leigh also hit the post.

Buckingham, who spent many years as a youth team coach at Oxford before returning from India to manage them, said: “It’s without doubt the most enjoyable experience of my time here.

“It was very exciting. And the way the players bounced off the fans, and the fans bounced off the players, was fantastic.

“That’s certainly the best football we’ve played since I’ve been here.

“There is a real clear understanding about the way we want to play and there is a real clear understanding about what we want to do.

“The players were excellent right across the pitch considering that we lost Cameron Brannagan and Elliott Moore to fitness decisions late on Friday.

“Today the players carried out exactly what we wanted them to do almost exactly to the letter.

“It’s been a really good couple of weeks. But we’re not naive enough to think we’re in the play-offs already.

“We need to recover well and prepare well enough to put on a performance like that against Lincoln on Tuesday.”

Peterborough’s defeat is a massive blow to their hopes of claiming one of the automatic promotion places.

Posh boss Darren Ferguson said: “I must admit I didn’t see that coming.

“We were absolutely outclassed in every single department.

“We started strongly and confidently, then gifted them two goals.

“I was hoping then that if we could get to half-time and it’s only two, we could do things to change it. But then they got a third.

“Sometimes, though, you have to give credit to the opposition, they were outstanding. Quite honestly, it could have been 10. We got away with it being only 5-0.

“We didn’t have the quality in any department. All the quality on the pitch came from Oxford.

“The manner of the defeat was very, very disappointing. No excuses from us but I cannot accept that.

“The players have got to react quickly and now make sure we get in the play-offs because we’re not they’re yet. And I’ve got some difficult decisions to make now for the next game.”

Oxford produced an attacking masterclass to down strugglers Burton 4-0 at the Pirelli Stadium and boss Des Buckingham thoroughly enjoyed himself as his side returned to the League One play-off places.

Mark Harris’ double alongside goals from Josh Murphy and James Henry left Buckingham delighted.

“A very enjoyable evening,” Buckingham said. “Four goals again and starting to show that cutting edge that was missing for a little bit, but we knew that would come and now it is about making sure that we continue through.”

Oxford seem to be timing their run well but with three home games against fellow promotion contenders to come in the next week Buckingham knows that levels have to remain high.

“It was always going to click, and it was only a matter of time before we did. Now whether it is Peterborough, Stevenage or Lincoln in the next six days we need to take today into there,” he added.

On Harris, he said: “He is getting towards his target, and we will try and get him past it if we can. He was very calm for the first goal and still had half the pitch to run and take the keeper on but he has Josh Murphy on one side and Owen Dale on the other creating space and opportunities for him.

“Mark is reaping the rewards of the hard work he is putting in but also the work of those around him.”

Defeat for Burton extended their winless run to 10 games and saw them drop into the bottom four, leaving boss Martin Paterson taking responsibility for results but blasting an “unprofessional” performance from his side.

“It lands on me as the manager,” Paterson said. “I accept full responsibility for that performance which was unprofessional in my opinion.

“From every single attacking set-play we were transitioned, and they were in our box to look like they would score, and we allowed a team who I had identified as being dangerous in transition to do that and it beggars belief really.

“We seem to have a massive issue playing at home at the moment. The players look scared, and it shows.

“We started playing and passing it at 4-0 down because the pressure is off, but it is bitterly disappointing to see a performance like that.”

Oxford boss Des Buckingham rued missed chances as his side’s promotion hopes took a blow with a 1-1 draw at Shrewsbury.

Buckingham’s side dropped out of the top six in League One after letting a lead slip.

The visitors went ahead eight minutes into the second half through Billy Bodin, but Shrewsbury substitute Jack Price earned his relegation-battling side a valuable point.

“I think we have created enough chances to win a couple of games there,” Buckingham said.

“Not just chances but big moments – I think it was three or four key moments in the game.

“It is making sure, especially when the game is at 1-0, that you put the game to bed otherwise that can happen.

“If we want to be where we are at the end of the season, those moments need to turn into goals, which then obviously turn into three points and make the game a lot easier.

“We shouldn’t have the game in the state of 1-0 that allows them to come away with a point when we should be two or three clear.

“We want to make sure it points rather than goal difference. It is in our own hands how we finish our season.

“If we do what we want, we won’t need to worry about goal difference.”

Shrewsbury boss Paul Hurst believes his side were deserving of a point, which left them six points clear of the relegation zone.

“For large parts, I thought we were more than in the game and competed well,” Hurst said.

“First half, I thought we perhaps shaved it and had the best chance with Aiden (O’Brien) and Marko (Marosi) made one good save earlier on.

“Second half we actually started better and on the front foot and then gave away a disappointing goal on our part.

“It is movement we highlighted. They got in behind us.

“Then you could see their confidence grow a little but credit to the players, we hung on in there.

“Eventually, they got their rewards, which their efforts deserved with an unusual goalscorer, shall we say, but he has got that quality in him in Jack Price.

“It’s a nice moment for him as he has played higher and in a different county and at different levels.”

Des Buckingham was hungry for more goals despite efforts from Ciaron Brown and Josh Murphy earning Oxford a 2-0 win at Port Vale that moved them into the play-offs.

Brown’s 16th-minute strike lashed the U’s into the lead, before Murphy’s cross-shot nestled in the far corner to settle the scoring four minutes into the second half.

Billy Bodin had an early effort swept off the line and the visitors had two penalty shouts waved away, as they dominated proceedings throughout.

Oxford had chances late on to add gloss to the scoreline – Will Goodwin and Murphy fluffing their lines with the goal gaping. Baylee Dipepa came closest to a late consolation for Vale, firing into a crowd of bodies.

Speaking to BBC Radio Oxford, visiting boss Buckingham said: “Another three points to back up Saturday. We asked for a reaction but not an overreaction.

“We controlled the game for most of the game and it was an excellent performance and a fully deserved three points.

“If we’re being critical, we should score more. We’ve done enough to come away with the win. That’s the important thing.

“We changed the formation. We wanted to get at these and attack them. We needed to react from Tuesday’s defeat to Bolton. Game by game we’re seeing how important every game will be. We spoke about going on our own run of form. Six points out of the last nine is done now. All the players shone today.

“It’s important we got another three points and back in the play-off spots. We now have a 12-day international break to get ready for another couple of games and see how many points we can get from that.”

Speaking to BBC Radio Stoke, Port Vale boss Darren Moore said: “Two set-plays, two goals to concede which were very disappointing. That’s the most frustrating aspect of it. I thought we started the game really well.

“We had Oxford on the back foot but after quarter of an hour, the first goal seemed to rock us a bit. That gave them confidence and the ability to start stringing passes together. I needed to make a double substitution and that seemed to stem the tide a bit.

“The second goal gave us a mountain to climb. We huffed and puffed after that. We had a couple of half-chances but nothing fell to us in the box.

“You don’t want to lose games. I want to be open. I’m disappointed, the boys are disappointed. But I have to say to them, while the maths are still there, we have to keep going. We need to get ourselves up, dust ourselves down and be prepared for a real tough game at Burton next week.”

Oxford boss Des Buckingham hailed his side’s late 2-1 victory over struggling Cheltenham as a “much-needed win” for his play-off-chasing side.

Greg Leigh headed the winner in the 87th minute from a fine cross by Owen Dale.

Josh Murphy had fired the hosts in front in first-half stoppage time, but the Robins equalised in the 80th minute through Will Ferry.

Buckingham said: “We’ve come away with a much-needed win, points on the board at an important time of the year.

“It took us until the 87th minute to get there, but we got there in the end.

“Cheltenham are a very difficult team to play against. They play with five at the back and have got four in midfield – sometimes you have to be patient and do things a lot quicker.

“I thought the last 10 or 15 minutes of the first half we came good, got the goal and lost a bit of control of the game but regained it and got what I thought was a deserved winner.

“I wouldn’t like to play against Owen (Dale). He works tirelessly the whole game. He’s one of the few players I have seen in this league who is able to dribble at pace. He’ll invariably get past you and today he put two or three decent balls into the box.

“And Greg arrived on the back of another cross and scored the second time. He should probably have scored with the first one just before, though that was a very good save.

“Owen was very good, but when you’ve got Josh Murphy on the other side too it just mixes things up.

“We’ve been trying to get Greg Leigh into more advanced areas. He did it a little bit more second half, which was good to see.”

Cheltenham manager Darrell Clarke was unhappy with the mentality of his players as they conceded goals at the end of each half to slip even deeper into relegation trouble.

Clarke said: “I’m not happy. We should never concede a goal like that just before half-time.

“Then we score an equaliser, are on the front foot and then it’s a mentality thing for me. It wasn’t just the goal, for five or six minutes before that people were slashing at things, no composure, not making right decisions.

“I’m not happy on crucial moments in games and I’m expecting more from our players.

“For me it was a mindset and mentality issue that we sat back after scoring and then you get punished. It was inexcusable.

“Our game plan was working quite well first half, we’d limited them to very few chances, only a couple of long-range shots and then we concede a poor goal.

“We made a few changes, stayed in the game, got the ball down and played in the right areas and got the equaliser.

“Then, for whatever reason, the mentality of the team that was out there to finish the game was nowhere near good enough.

“Players that come into the team need to take those opportunities or else they’ll never play at those levels again.

“Players have to learn quickly because otherwise they just fall by the wayside.”

Oxford head coach Des Buckingham was delighted with his team’s second-half performance as they beat Wigan 4-2 at the Kassam Stadium for their first win in six games.

He praised 20-year-old Tyler Goodrham who provided the icing on the cake with the fourth goal as the U’s moved back into the top six.

United’s other goals came from Josh Murphy, Cameron Brannagan and Ruben Rodrigues, with Brannagan also seeing a long-range shot smash against the bar.

Buckingham said: “We weren’t at our best in the first half.

“The pleasing thing for me was our response in the second half – and we’ve had players come on who have had a massive impact.

“You have to remember that when players have been out for a while it takes them time to get their match fitness and match sharpness back.

“But we have given them valuable game time now.

“At half-time we spoke about making sure we move the ball quicker and it was trying to give them clarity – simplifying things rather than complicating them.

“With players coming back we now have a lot more options and hopefully with four games unbeaten we can make this a bit of a run.

“Tyler Goodrham’s a wonderful young man who has grown massively.

“It’s a pleasure to watch him and to have a player here who is so bright and so mature for his age.”

Wigan had led through Jordan Jones’s 41st-minute shot, but their level dropped in the second half and Thelo Aasgaard’s second goal for the Latics late on proved not enough.

Wigan boss Shaun Maloney was unhappy with his team’s mentality.

Maloney said: “We were very good up until they scored and the mentality dropped.

“I put myself in the group because it’s all of us – I’ll change that mentality.

“There were two sides to our performance – and one I didn’t like.

“What I didn’t see at half-time and in the second half was an understanding of why we had been so dominant.

“We can’t take things for granted. As soon as we start to think we’re better than we are, we get hurt. You saw that in the second half.

“I’ve got some really good lads in the dressing room and some young ones who are learning.

“They have to understand that football is hard.

“As soon as you think you’re doing OK, other teams will hurt you and that’s what happened tonight.

“What we did with the ball was as good as anything we’ve produced this season.

“But that second half wasn’t. We’ve had second halves like that and games like that because of where we are as a club.

“It’s on me to change the culture at the club.”

Oxford boss Des Buckingham felt frustrated as a late equaliser earned Reading a 1-1 draw at the Kassam Stadium.

Royals sub Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan’s strong run down the left 14 minutes from time opened up Oxford’s defence and Ciaron Brown turned the substitute’s cross into his own net.

Oxford had led the Thames Valley derby from the 32nd minute when striker Mark Harris bagged his 12th goal of the season, turning Cameron Brannagan’s pullback into the net from close range.

Buckingham said: “The last two results – two draws at home – are not the results we wanted. We wanted two wins.

“But we are going to get stronger. We had three players missing from midweek, two players making their debuts and we’ll have four players back next week.

“We’ve got 10 first-team players out, and players playing out of position – that’s not an excuse, just an explanation.

“The top teams tend to be those with settled teams but that’s been very difficult for us.

“In the first half I thought we deserved our lead. Mark Harris keeps finding himself in the areas to get goals – as we knew he would.

“But we didn’t control the game the way we wanted in the second half, and kind of played into their hands.

“It’s frustrating – Reading had just one shot on goal, that’s the same as Barnsley when they won here recently. That’s the way it’s gone in those two games.”

The lack of chances Oxford created will be a worry to Buckingham too.

Reading boss Ruben Selles hailed the impact of Ehibhatiomhan and the other subs as they helped force a draw in what was Reading’s first ever league visit to the Kassam Stadium.

Selles said: “The substitutes had an impact. Kelvin and the boys have been doing great.

“There was a moment where we were low in terms of intensity, aggression and forward playing, and we knew it’s a squad game and the players on the bench would make a difference.

“When they came on, they changed the dynamic of the game. We came here to get the three points, but the performance was there at moments in the game.

“I think a point is fair. I thought in the last five or 10 minutes we could even get a second goal.

“I’m happy with the performance but we came here to get the three points.

“We have been performing well away from home and we’ve been solid on our travels.”

The draw stretched the Royals’ recent run to just one defeat in 10 games, though they remain in the relegation places.

Oxford boss Des Buckingham has urged his players to find their consistency after a 3-1 win at Carlisle.

The promotion-chasing U’s remain in the hunt after Mark Harris’ double and Tyler Goodrham’s effort at Brunton Park.

Alfie McColmont’s goal was a mere consolation for the relegation-threatened Cumbrians, but Buckingham’s charges are three points off the top three after a fourth victory in six games.

“It’s a big win for us,” said the Oxford manager.

“We’re obviously still short of bodies ourselves, but we’re slowly starting to get right.

“It’s about trying to remain consistent and if we do that the performances will come.

“It’s important with 20 games to go to get as many points as possible.”

Harris’ brace, with goals either side of half-time, took his tally to four in four, and Buckingham is pleased as punch his striker is getting the rewards after an 11-game goal drought.

He said: “Mark’s getting some reward for the efforts he put in for the spell he had when he wasn’t scoring.

“We’ve spoken in the dressing room about standards so we don’t get too high or too low with the performance or the result.

“Mark Harris’ attitude to that spell where he wasn’t scoring, he was creating, he was hitting the bar and the post and the keepers were making good saves. If he could continue doing that he would be scoring and it’s great to see those efforts hitting the net rather than the woodwork or the keeper now.”

Struggling Carlisle have won just one of their last 12 league games and boss Paul Simpson believes the difference has been the quality in front of goal.

He said: “They are a very good side. They’re a club that is gearing up to try and be promoted.

“When we didn’t make those opportunities count in the first half they started to get control of the game.

“The first goal was a set-play and it was a really simple thing where we don’t pick up the biggest centre-half on the pitch, he’s 6ft 4in, and he gets a free header. You go a goal down and you’re up against it and we were rocked a bit.

“The second goal is an absolute sickener to give that away when the striker runs through two centre-backs. If we had VAR it would be given offside.

“But we don’t, it’s down to the human eye. Whether it’s right or wrong is debatable, we don’t really know. We were chasing it after that.

“That was the difference, the difference in quality in the final third separated us. We’ve got in there and not been able to test the keeper enough.

“Things go against you when you’re down but we stuck at it, kept trying to give it a go. There were incidents where we should have done better and worked the goalkeeper more.”

Oxford boss Des Buckingham was far happier with his team’s second-half showing after they came from behind at the break to beat Cambridge 2-1 at the Kassam Stadium.

Cambridge led through Jordan Cousins’ goal at a corner after 30 minutes – and they should have been further ahead at half-time with James Brophy missing a great chance to make it 2-0.

Tyler Goodrham, who came into Oxford’s side because left winger Josh Murphy was injured, scored a brilliant solo equaliser nine minutes after the break, cutting in from the left and firing into the far corner from 22 yards.

Defender Ciaron Brown then headed in a winner five minutes into stoppage time when Cambridge goalkeeper Jack Stevens could only beat out Cameron Brannagan’s long-range drive.

It was only Buckingham’s second league win in seven games.

He said: “It was a nice way for us to finish the game.

“I said to the players at half-time that we needed to move the ball quicker and stick to our beliefs.

“I’m extremely happy with the response.

“Tyler has been very patient, he’s been coming on as a substitute a couple of times since I’ve been here.

“It’s about coming on or coming in and having an impact and Tyler’s done that extremely well.

“Losing Josh Murphy before the game was a blow.

“If you look at his record, Tyler doesn’t just score goals, he scores goals at important moments.

“It hopefully gives me a tough selection problem now for our next game against Derby.

“We were much better in the second half. We needed more speed and to move the ball quicker, and we did that.

“The changes we made and fresh legs coming on helped keep that sharpness on the field.”

Oxford’s dramatic late victory came after they lost to a last-minute goal in their last match at Northampton on Saturday.

Buckingham said: “We spoke about sticking to what we wanted to do.

“At Northampton we saw a loose structure coming in which cause us a lot of chaos.

“Teams come to us and sometimes want to settle for a point. We’re not happy with a point – we always want to go for three.”

Cambridge head coach Neil Harris said: “I feel for the players.

“We were that good first half we should have been three or four goals clear at half-time.

“We’ve got to be more ruthless in their penalty area.

“The quality of some of our play was outstanding but we have to take more responsibility in front of goal.

“We’re playing against a team that is fifth in the league and who topped the table for quite some time, so to come here and dominate as we did in the first half was impressive.”

Oxford boss Des Buckingham felt getting a first league win under his belt was probably more of a relief for his family than for him after the 3-0 victory over Burton.

Two goals from Ruben Rodrigues and one from Marcus McGuane earned the U’s a comfortable victory and the scoreline could have been double that.

Former Oxford goalkeeper Max Crocombe pulled off a string of saves to keep the score down, and Burton also cleared four attempts off the line in one crazy 10-second spell.

Oxford-born Buckingham said: “I think it’s a relief for my dad and my family.

“The first people that speak to me are my family and my friends… I don’t need reminding from anyone else.

“This week we set up to do something and I started to change things and put more of a stamp on what we are doing.

“The players have been excellent in training this week and I’m extremely pleased with what I have seen today.

“We prepared ourselves as well as we could and I don’t think Burton had a shot on goal.

“With the exception of Max Crocombe in their goal, who I thought had a wonderful game, we could have had a couple more as well.

“I worked with Max when he was the youth-team keeper here – it’s the third time I’ve bumped into him, we also crossed paths in Australia and New Zealand.

“He’s obviously disappointed with the result but I’ve just said to him ‘you can’t be disappointed with that performance you’ve put in’.

“I think they cleared four off the line in the space of 10 seconds. And we hit the post just before that.

“The most important thing is that you keep the control and keep doing what’s got you the opportunities – and that’s what we kept doing.

“It took a very good strike from Ruben for the second, and then it was a wonderful strike from Marcus for the third.

“The work rate that our wingers put in is phenomenal, not just in going forward but in getting back.”

Harris was twice thwarted by Crocombe, but also missed other opportunities.

“The goals will come for Mark Harris,” added Buckingham. “The way we’ve set the team up he’ll get chances.

“He had two wonderful chances today and their keeper’s made great saves. As long as he continues doing what he’s doing, the goals will come – and when they do they’ll be like London buses.”

Burton’s caretaker boss Gary Mills said: “We asked the lads to give everything and I’m really proud of them. They worked really hard and showed real character.

“We wanted them to go out there, enjoy it and show bravery. In patches they showed some decent stuff and the blocks they put in showed real commitment.

“After the match, I thanked the lads for their efforts. I was concerned that Oxford had so many opportunities – they got into our final third too much.

“We didn’t close the ball down enough from a deep line. But they were quality finishes and Oxford are a good side – there’s no doubt about that.

“They’re a big club with big resources and a really good squad. They’ll be challenging.

“We didn’t work the Oxford goalkeeper enough. But this is the start of a journey and while we’re in charge we’ll try and get more players in attacking areas on the pitch with more crosses and more shots.”

Mills has taken temporary charge from Dino Maamria, who departed in the week.

Mills added: “I don’t know how long we’ll be in charge but we’ll try and deliver something that is attacking and enjoyable to watch – something to get the crowd off their seats. But it’s not going to happen for us overnight.”

New Oxford head coach Des Buckingham is not concerned that, after the 1-1 draw at local rivals Reading, he has now failed in four attempts to gain his first League One victory.

Both goals came shortly before the interval, with defender Ciaron Brown giving Oxford the lead in the 39th minute with a stooping header – only for former United loanee Sam Smith to equalise four minutes later.

Buckingham, who replaced the departed Liam Manning last month, said: “I’ve only been here [at the club] for a few weeks.

“We’ve played two of the top teams in Peterborough and Bolton and I’ve really had only about three training sessions with the group.

“That’s all I’ve had…and that’s not passing the buck there!

“And tonight, we’ve got a good result with a very different team. So it’s not really a concern to me right now.

“I think that we’ll come good, it just needs a bit of time.

“It was a good derby game but we were missing a good few key players so we had to make some changes tonight, a lot of them enforced.

“I changed a few things that we’ve done in the last two weeks and I thought that we deserved to win the game.

“At the end, we just couldn’t convert the chances, but we’ll take a point.”

Oxford had close to 3,000 fans at the SCL Stadium.

Buckingham added: “We had unbelievable support. We know they travel in their numbers but it’s a derby and it has been a long time since this one has been on the cards.

“They were absolutely wonderful tonight. It was a really good, strong atmosphere.”

Reading are now four points off safety near the foot of the table.

“A point is a point and we will take it,” Ruben Selles, the Reading manager, said.

“It was a competitive game and, at times, we showed that we could control it and we could score. We also defended well.

“We came back from 1-0 down and then at the end, especially from a couple of set-plays, we would have lost the game three or four weeks ago.

“But the team is in a good moment and in a good spirit. I was also very happy with the effort we put in.

“So I will happily take that point and we move forward.

“We started the game well, we had the ball and we made the right decisions so that we created certain situations.

“We have no depth yet when we can dominate for 95 or 100 minutes.

“But the good thing about the second half was that we managed to stay in the game.

“We had to adapt and adjust and we did not concede another goal. This is all part of the game.”

New Oxford boss Des Buckingham is still awaiting his first League One victory after four matches following a 1-1 draw at local rivals Reading.

Most of the first-half action was squeezed into a four-minute spell shortly before the interval, with Oxford going in front from a Ciaron Brown header and Sam Smith soon levelling for the hosts.

The second period proved high on endeavour yet low on quality, with neither team able to find a winner.

In the first league meeting between the clubs since April 2001, an even and quiet opening gave way to a dramatic end to the half.

Full-back Brown nodded play-off chasers Oxford in front from a Stanley Mills cross in the 39th minute, much to the delight of their near-3,000 travelling fans.

But Reading were back level in the 43rd minute, former United loanee Smith latching on to a fine Lewis Wing pass to coolly beat keeper James Beadle.

Oxford dominated most of the second period but without unduly troubling the home defence or keeper David Button, though Josh Murphy drilled narrowly wide in stoppage time.

Reading offered little going forward, apart from weak efforts from Femi Azeez and Charlie Savage that were saved by Beadle, and the game petered out into a tame draw.

Des Buckingham singled out Josh Murphy after League One Oxford saw off last year’s FA Cup giant-killers Grimsby 2-0 at the Kassam Stadium to reach the third round.

Murphy made the first goal – converted by Marcus McGuane – after 11 minutes, with substitute Billy Bodin heading in the second from Cameron Brannagan’s cross 15 minutes from time to give Buckingham his first win in charge.

He said: “The whole team were very good – the one player who maybe really stood out was Murphy on the left-hand side.

“He is one of many in the team who are keen to show me what they can do and I thought he had a wonderful game.”

Buckingham, who swapped 35-degree Mumbai for sub-zero Oxford to get his first shot at management in England, added: “What pleased me most was the professionalism in how we approached the game.

“It was a professional performance from us against a team that’s also desperate to impress because they’ve got a new manager as well.

“There might have been a perception after playing Bolton on Tuesday night that we would take our foot off the gas here but I didn’t see that at all.

“I saw a very well organised and disciplined team.

“It finished 2-0 but I think we could have scored a couple more.”

McGuane followed up to score when Mariners goalkeeper Harvey Cartwright could only parry Murphy’s shot – after the winger had sprinted 60 yards up the left on a break from defence.

It all came from a Grimsby corner that was poorly executed.

And new boss David Artell, who has been in the job for less than a week, blamed himself for the goal.

Artell said: “I blame myself for it because it came from our corner – and we haven’t worked on any set-pieces, which is my fault.”

He added: “When you’ve only had one proper training session and two match-prep sessions in a week it’s very hard to change a lot.

“But I thought we gave a good account of ourselves, we controlled possession better than we did on Tuesday night at MK Dons.

“I’ve seen enough to know that we’ve got a lot of qualities and we’re going to be OK.”

Grimsby never got close to repeating their fairy-tale run of last season when they won at Southampton and made it all the way through to the quarter-finals.

Their best opportunity fell to sub Donovan Wilson who ran in behind the home defence in the second half and brought a good save from James Beadle.

The one disappointment for Oxford was seeing forward Marcus Browne, who had been sidelined for three months with a hamstring injury, have to come off the pitch shortly after going on.

Buckingham said: “Marcus has been out for 14 weeks and has been working extremely hard with his rehabilitation.

“He was cleared to play and we put him on and he was ready to go. He contributed extremely well to the second goal but then just suddenly felt a little bit tight, so rather than risk anything we brought him off.”

Des Buckingham enjoyed a first win as Oxford manager as the League One side reached the third round by beating League Two opponents Grimsby 2-0.

The Mariners were unable to repeat last season’s cup exploits when they became the first club in the competition’s history to knock out five teams from higher divisions on their way to the quarter-finals.

Marcus McGuane fired Oxford ahead in the 11th minute and Billy Bodin got the second 15 minutes from time.

Grimsby were the architects of their own downfall as Oxford’s opener came from their own corner. Josh Murphy raced 60 yards and although Harvey Cartwright parried his drive, McGuane followed up to score.

Otis Khan had two half-chances for Grimsby in the first half and with 20 minutes to go Donovan Wilson was denied by James Beadle’s low save.

Cartwright was much the busier, saving from Stan Mills, twice, and Ruben Rodrigues. The visiting keeper also saved superbly from Bodin and Tyler Goodrham’s drive.

But he could do nothing to stop Bodin nodding in Cameron Brannagan’s chipped cross in the 75th minute to seal Oxford’s progress.

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