Lincoln kept alive their League One play-off hopes with a crucial 1-0 victory over sixth-placed Oxford at the Kassam Stadium.

Danny Mandroiu hit the winner from the penalty two minutes into the second half after Ruben Rodrigues fouled Ben House.

They held out despite having substitute Dylan Duffy sent off for a second yellow card seven minutes from the end.

It was a must-win game for the Imps after their home defeat by Wigan at the weekend and they started the better.

Paudie O’Connor forced goalkeeper Jamie Cumming into a save with a far-post header at a corner and Freddie Draper headed wide from close in.

The visitors suffered a blow when Reeco Hackett had to go off with an arm injury after what looked an innocuous challenge.

As the half wore on Oxford settled and keeper Lukas Jensen twice saved from Tyler Goodrham and Mark Harris also went close twice as the U’s turned up the heat.

But City also looked dangerous and Draper squandered another good opportunity from eight yards.

The U’s were caught cold at the start of the second half when they conceded the spot-kick, hammered home by Mandroiu to Cumming’s left.

Cameron Brannagan added an extra dimension for United when he came off the bench and he cut in from the left to hammer a fierce drive that Jensen did well to save.

But Lincoln defended resolutely for a victory that keeps their season going.

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 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.”

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.”

Wycombe boss Matt Bloomfield believes the 2-2 draw at Oxford confirmed what a good team he has after a week of three tough matches for the club.

He felt the Chairboys probably deserved more than just two points from their fixtures against Peterborough, Bolton and Oxford.

A dramatic clash between local rivals at the Kassam Stadium featured three second-half penalties.

Luke Leahy converted two for Wycombe after Marcus McGuane unluckily slipped and handled the ball, then when James Beadle brought down Brandon Hanlon.

Oxford, who had taken a 25th-minute lead through Ruben Rodrigues, snatched a point deep into stoppage time as sub Cameron Branagan converted from the spot when Leahy tripped Mark Harris.

Bloomfield was not prepared to criticise Leahy, a summer signing from Shrewsbury, for conceding the late spot kick.

Bloomfield said: “Luke is so disappointed in the dressing room but I’ve said to him to get his head up.

“To take that responsibility and have that calmness and surety – and especially with the second penalty to be able to repeat it again on what was a big occasion for our supporters and ourselves – is tremendous.

“Luke has been an unbelievable signing for us – both as a player and his influence as a leader and as someone who can contribute at both ends of the pitch.

“I’m really pleased that we’ve got him at our football club.”

Bloomfield added: “We wanted to come to Oxford and press and impose ourselves and we did that.

“It changed the balance of the game when Oxford scored and they then had a 10-minute spell where we had to hang on a bit.

“I thought Oxford’s penalty at the end was a bit soft. But it’s not easy for the referee in that situation with so much emotion in the stadium.

“We wanted to be on the front foot and play in attacking areas. I’m so proud of my players.

“We’ve played three top teams this week and we’ve been the better team in the second half in each of them.

“We’ve come away to top sides that have started the season well and we’ve shown that we’re a good team.”

Oxford boss Liam Manning was shown the red card for angry comments when Wycombe were awarded their second spot kick.

Under Football League rules he was not allowed to talk to the media after the match.

U’s assistant head coach Chris Hogg said: “It was a topsy-turvy affair. We’ll take a point at the end of the game and we were really happy with some of the play from the boys.

“And credit to the boys for the energy and attitude in getting back into it.

“But I think in general it’s quite sad now that, at every level we’re having to talk about key decisions rather than the football that was played.

“Both sets of players probably feel aggrieved at the end.”

Hogg felt it was important to have key midfielder Brannagan back in the fold after he had missed two games with illness.

“It’s been great to have Cameron back in the building again – he’s only been back in for a couple of days – and they were important minutes for him today.

“One thing you know about Cam is his enthusiasm and personality is big for the group, and big for the club.

“He’s definitely lifted the place the last 48 hours. I never had any doubt when he stepped up for that penalty – I had full faith in him that he’d score.”

Both managers were angry with referee Simon Mather after Oxford United beat Bristol Rovers 2-1 at the Kassam Stadium in a match that saw three red cards dished out.

Rovers had Jevani Brown dismissed for two yellow cards midway through the second half, and Oxford had two of their substitutes, Oisin Smyth and Stan Mills, sent off in stoppage time.

Billy Bodin and Sam Long scored the goals which secured Oxford’s fifth successive Sky Bet League One victory, despite Aaron Collins’ late consolation.

United head coach Liam Manning said: “It was chaos at the end. I need to see the Mills one back again before I say anything about it because my initial decision is that it wasn’t a red card.

“I was delighted with the win, but I’m not happy with the end.

“We made it hard for ourselves with some of our decisions on the ball and not putting chances away, and we need to be more disciplined – that’s something I’ll have to look at.

“I don’t really want to be talking about the referee, I’d much rather talk about the performance, but the level of refereeing performances in general is not meeting the standards we need.

“And it’s just frustrating that the outcome of some games seems to depend on the referee.

“It was a tough first half. Out of possession we ended up conceding too much of the ball. The one moment of real quality came from Billy Bodin for our goal.”

Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton felt his side should have had a penalty and that Collins’ disallowed goal in the first half should not have been ruled out.

“I feel severely aggrieved by the referee’s performance,” he said. “We’ll get fined if I tell the truth but clearly anyone who watched that will see there was a lack of control from the officiating team for most of the game.

“I think the officials will look back at this game and, when they are debriefed, there will be a lot of things they’ll wish they did differently.

“Everyone who was here today knows we were the better side. If they don’t, then they don’t understand the game of football.

“We showed who the stronger group is. We had seven or eight missing today. Oxford are a good side on a good run but they are nowhere near as good as us.

“It would have been a great game of football had it been officiated correctly but it descended into a slightly farcical situation.

“I can’t wait to get our hands back on Oxford again at our place. It’s a team we look forward to playing. We have nothing to fear in this division.”

Mark Harris’ first goal for his new club gave Oxford a 1-0 Sky Bet League One win over new boys Carlisle at the Kassam Stadium.

Carlisle had started brightly, with Callum Guy firing a right-footed shot just wide in the sixth minute.

Oxford were giving the ball away a lot in the early exchanges and struggled to create clear openings against the compact visitors.

The U’s eventually tested Carlisle keeper Tomas Holy in stoppage-time at the end of the first-half with a 20-yard effort from midfielder Cameron Brannagan.

Oxford improved after the break, with Harris racing through on the left, but delayed his shot too long and the chance went.

Ruben Rodrigues’ influence continued to grow and Oxford’s pressure told with 14 minutes left when substitute Tyler Goodrham fed Harris on the left – and the summer signing from Cardiff slotted past keeper Holy from 16 yards.

Goodrham also fired wide from a late chance and Holy saved from Brannagan.

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