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.”

Mark Harris’ double helped push Oxford back into the League One play-off places as they ruthlessly beat Burton 4-0 at the Pirelli Stadium.

A long throw from Tom Hamer into the Oxford box was cleared and, when Tolaji Bola misjudged his header on halfway, Harris was able to race away, round keeper Max Crocombe and slot home midway through the first half.

The Welsh striker continued to torment the Brewers defence, adding a second early in the second half by bundling the ball in from eight yards out.

Josh Murphy grabbed a well-deserved goal shortly afterwards, driving from his own half to score on the counter-attack.

And, as Albion’s defence capitulated, substitute James Henry added a fourth from inside the box, dispossessing Ryan Sweeney before firing into the bottom corner.

The margin of defeat pushed Albion into the bottom four on goal difference after Port Vale’s point at Wigan.

Left-back Greg Leigh headed Oxford’s winner three minutes from time as they sealed a 2-1 victory over Cheltenham to maintain their play-off push.

Cameron Brannagan threatened twice in the first half for Oxford, with Luke Southwood beating out a fierce free-kick and then a drive from the midfielder.

Ruben Rodrigues and Mark Harris also went close before Josh Murphy fired the hosts in front in first-half stoppage time, drilling an angled shot into the far corner from Brannagan’s pass.

Cheltenham created few scoring opportunities, but Oxford goalkeeper Jamie Cuming kept out a low shot from substitute Jordan Thomas midway through the second half.

And Will Ferry equalised with a 20-yard snapshot past Cumming in the 80th minute.

But, just as the Robins must have been thinking they had secured a precious point in their bid to avoid the drop, Owen Dale sent over a deep cross and Leigh powered home a header at the far post.

It earned Oxford only their second win in 11 games.

Portsmouth manager John Mousinho was delighted with the League One leaders’ helter-skelter 2-1 win at home to Oxford.

Christian Saydee came off the bench to score the goal that fired Pompey a step closer to promotion after Cameron Brannagan’s penalty had cancelled out Callum Lang’s opener for the home side.

Mousinho said: “You could describe that as a pretty breathtaking display from both sides. It was an enjoyable game to watch and with both teams pressing, it created openings for us and them.

“I think it was a good advert for Division One football and I personally think Oxford would be feeling a little hard done by not to go away with at least a point.

“It was probably not our best performance of the season but after what has historically been draws between the sides, it was nice to get the win.

“We started well with the goal but then shot ourselves in the foot for their penalty.

“We seemed to feel a bit sorry for ourselves after that until half-time and we were in fact slow starters at the start of the second half.

“But once we got the second, I felt we were in control from that point on.”

In a fast and furious opening 45 minutes, the sides went in all square.

Pompey took the lead in the second minute when a powerful shot from Lang squirmed under goalkeeper Jamie Cumming.

But Oxford equalised after six minutes when Pompey gave the ball away and Sean Raggett brought down ex-Pompey midfielder Owen Dale for a penalty which was easily converted by Brannagan.

Mark Harris then hit the Pompey post on 13 minutes.

Oxford had the first chance of the second half but Josh Murphy was also denied by the woodwork.

Pompey regained the lead after 67 minutes when Saydee held off a strong challenge to run clear and place the ball wide of Cumming.

Oxford pushed for an equaliser but to no avail.

Oxford boss Des Buckingham said: “I think that’s our best performance since taking the reins. But that’s the frustrating thing because we have come away with nothing.

“We’ve done more than enough to have won the game. We’ve hit the post twice and have had opportunities cleared off the line in the second half.

“We did enough to have won a couple of games out there today. If we can perform for the next 10 games like we did today, I will be extremely happy.

“Although frustrating, we have to approach the next game in the same way we did for this game and if we do that we will position ourselves strongly for that.”

Substitute Christian Saydee’s first league goal of the season saw leaders Portsmouth win 2-1 against Oxford at Fratton Park to move a step closer to promotion.

In a fast and furious opening 45 minutes, the sides went in all square.

Pompey took the lead in the second minute when a powerful shot from Callum Lang squirmed under goalkeeper Jamie Cumming.

But Oxford equalised after six minutes when Pompey gave the ball away and Sean Raggett brought down ex-Pompey midfielder Owen Dale for a penalty which was easily converted by Cameron Brannagan.

Mark Harris then hit the Pompey post on 13 minutes.

Oxford had the first chance of the second half but Josh Murphy was also denied by the woodwork.

Pompey regained the lead after 67 minutes when Saydee held off a strong challenge to run clear and place the ball wide of Cumming.

Oxford pushed for an equaliser but to no avail.

Neil Critchley believes Blackpool did not switch on quickly enough in their 1-1 draw with League One play-off rivals Oxford at Bloomfield Road.

Blackpool led the game after an 18th-minute goal from Matt Pennington but conceded just three minutes later to Oxford’s Mark Harris.

The result did little for either team, with Oxford sitting seventh, a point off the top six after a five-match winless run, and Blackpool – three without a victory themselves – a further five points adrift.

Critchley said: “We’re disappointed we didn’t take the three points if I’m honest, I thought we started the game well and scored from a well-worked set piece.

“The disappointment is the goal we conceded so soon after and the manner in which we conceded it, that knocked us a little bit.

“After our goal, we didn’t switch on quickly enough, we lost ourselves for a minute or two. It’s uncharacteristic of us in set pieces this season.

“It’s hugely frustrating, Oxford are a good team with good players but we dominated the second half and pushed them back. In the last few games, we’ve not got the points that we deserve.

“We can go anywhere and win, home or away doesn’t matter to me, they’re all tough games in this league.

“I thought the game was a good standard for League One, it was two good teams on show.”

Critchley also confirmed that Jordan Rhodes is unlikely to be ready for Tuesday’s game with Cheltenham after sustaining a rib injury against Charlton.

Oxford were bolstered by returnees as Billy Bodin and Josh Murphy came from the bench to combine for a golden chance in the closing stages.

But the U’s were unable to find a winner which would have moved them into the top six.

Manager Des Buckingham said: “We had a chance at the end of the game, it was an excellent cross by Josh Murphy into Billy Bodin but somehow it’s come off the post.

“To come here, it’s a very tough place, there are not many teams that have left here this season with anything.

“The second half was a bit scrappy for both teams, it was a bit of a fight and they worked with determination.

“Overall, we did enough to have taken three but pleased equally that it was one – Jamie Cumming made a world-class save to make sure we leave here with a point.

“We’re not going to hide behind excuses or the reality of what it is, we’ve been stretched extremely thin over the last two months.

“There’s plenty to come, we are sticking in and around where we want to be because, as you’ve seen today, we are stronger.”

Portsmouth boss John Mousinho felt the Sky Bet League One leaders “threw away” two points at Oxford.

Pompey came from behind at half-time to lead 2-1 – only for the U’s to snatch a point with a last-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw.

James Henry’s 90th minute header after goalkeeper Will Norris could only parry a Mark Harris shot salvaged a point for Oxford and took them back into the play-off places.

Tyler Goodrham had fired Oxford in front before Pompey turned it around through Colby Bishop’s 15th goal of the season and a debut goal from Callum Lang.

Mousinho said: “You could break the game down into three parts.

“In the first half we were very poor. In the second half we were good and deservedly got in front and then there was six minutes of madness at the end.

“I felt the pressure was building and building and building from us, and we got the second goal which was fully deserved, then we threw it away at the end.

“My big message to the players at half-time was that we were not showing enough bravery on the ball and we were going backwards too often, playing into Oxford’s hands.

“We deserved to be up…we let ourselves down in not having enough attacking players in the right positions and we weren’t positive enough in the first half.

“But we turned that around. It’s just that, at 2-2 with five minutes to go we’ve not locked the game up enough and that gives us a flat feeling.

“The two goals we conceded – I thought we were awful.

“It’s obviously nice to see Callum score, that was why we brought him into the football club to make an impact, and he’s done that straight away.”

Oxford head coach Des Buckingham said: “The pleasing thing for me is that, regardless of the changes we had to make because of injuries – to Fin Stevens and Jamie Cumming – is how this group stays together and how hard they work.

“Portsmouth are a good team, you’re not top for no reason, and we knew they would come hard at us for goals in the second half.

“But the pleasing thing for me is that at 2-1 down heads don’t drop and we deservedly got a second goal.

“I’m extremely happy with the reaction we showed at 2-1 down.

“The two goals we conceded were two scrappy goals, but it’s always hard as a goalkeeper coming on at half-time. I don’t think Simon Eastwood was at fault for either goal, we just need to defend better.”

Buckingham was booked late on for protesting at referee Darren Drysdale’s decision in not awarding a penalty when Goodrham appeared to be brought down.

“That’s the first yellow card of my professional career,” he said. “I was very unhappy with some of the decisions. But I can’t have a go at players for a lack of discipline if I don’t show discipline myself.

“When I came in as manager my assistant Craig Short said to me how James Henry always pops up with important goals at important times.

“He’s a model pro and I was delighted to see the goal he popped in tonight.

“Overall, it’s a good point and one we can take into our derby against Reading on Saturday.”

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.”

Promotion-chasing Oxford kept up the pressure on League One’s top two with a convincing 3-1 victory at Carlisle.

The U’s ran riot as Mark Harris’ brace and a further strike from Tyler Goodrham did the damage at Brunton Park.

Alfie McCalmont pulled one back for the relegation-threatened hosts, but they ultimately slipped to a third defeat in four matches.

The game sprung into life five minutes before the break as Harris slotted home after Elliott Moore headed Cameron Brannagan’s corner into his path.

And within minutes of the restart the striker doubled his and Oxford’s tally with his fourth goal in as many games as he rounded the keeper after being played through by Fin Stevens.

The game was done and dusted in the 68th minute when Goodrham cut inside and expertly found the bottom corner.

McCalmont opened his Cumbrians’ account after some brilliant work from Luke Armstrong to keep the ball alive, but it proved too little too late for Paul Simpson’s strugglers as their poor recent run stretched to just one win in 12 league outings.

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.”

Mark Harris’ double gave Oxford a 2-1 win at Derby.

Harris scored in each half before Martyn Waghorn replied late on for the home side.

Oxford had the first shot on target in the 17th minute with Marcus Browne forcing Joe Wildsmith into a diving save after good build-up play.

The visitors deservedly went ahead in the 32nd minute when Curtis Nelson gave the ball away and Cameron Brannagan played in Harris to fire into the top-right corner.

Derby put Oxford under pressure early in the second half but almost conceded again in the 64th minute when Browne set up Billy Bodin whose low shot brought a great save from Wildsmith.

Oxford’s pace and quick passing was rewarded in the 72nd minute when another slick move was converted by Harris low to Wildsmith’s left.

Derby responded in the 87th minute after Oxford failed to clear a long throw and Waghorn scored from 15 yards but it was not enough to save them from a second home League One defeat.

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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