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.

Peterborough swept to a fourth straight win as late goals from Josh Knight and substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris sealed a 3-1 win at Burton.

Albion looked to be on for a hard-earned point when Crystal Palace loanee Ademola Ola-Adebomi’s first senior goal cancelled out Ricky-Jade Jones’ opener.

A tight first half saw chances at a premium. Max Crocombe in the Burton goal had a make a sharp stop with his feet to deny Jones whilst a low save to deny Joel Randall was more comfortable for the Burton stopper.

Tolaji Bola blocked a close-range effort from Randall as Posh began to threaten but it was Albion who spurned the best chance of the half when Bobby Kamwa fired over from close range after good work from Joe Hugill on the right.

Posh went through the gears early in the second half and carved out the breakthrough when Jones glanced a header over Crocombe from Harrison Burrows’ cross.

Deji Oshilaja saw a header come back off the post before Albion equalised with 20 minutes to go, Ola-Adebomi getting the final touch to guide Tom Hamer’s long throw past Jed Steer.

Albion looked to have secured a vital point until Knight scored with two minutes to go, Clarke-Harris putting the gloss on victory with a stoppage-time finish from close range.

Cheltenham boss Darrell Clarke praised defender Tom Bradbury for another fine performance after his late goal-line clearance preserved a valuable point against Burton.

It was an uninspiring contest between the relegation rivals, with Cheltenham controlling much of the first half without seriously testing visiting goalkeeper Max Crocombe.

However, Burton nearly snatched the points deep into added time at the end of the game, when Manchester United loanee Joe Hugill reached a ball over the top ahead of advancing Cheltenham keeper Luke Southwood.

His shot rolled towards an empty net, but Bradbury chased it and timed his lunge to perfection, clearing just as the ball was about to cross the line.

“It was great defending,” Clarke said. “Tom has been great since I’ve been in the building.

“He’s had to wait for his chance and he’s taken it because he is defending superbly at the minute.

“He has to keep that focus and concentration levels to try and turn him into a decent League One player and that’s what we are trying to do with Tom and numerous players we have in the squad, trying to get them to hit the levels.

“With recent performances and not just today, Tom is doing that because he’s been very strong.”

Clarke was disappointed to see his side lose their impetus in the second half and he felt a draw was the fair result.

“It was a frustrating second-half performance from ourselves,” he said.

“In the first half, we had a lot of control, got into some dangerous areas and I was hoping for us to kick on second half, but we didn’t do that.

“We didn’t create the opportunities I like to create and we didn’t get our forward play going.”

Despite having most of the possession during the first half, they could not muster a shot on target.

Burton’s Ademola Ola-Adebomi saw an effort comfortably saved by Southwood in the 13th minute, but defences were very much on top, with several important blocks in both boxes.

Cheltenham felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the 28th minute when George Lloyd went down under a challenge from Steve Seddon, but referee Thomas Parsons waved away their appeals.

Tom Hamer made an excellent challenge on the line to deny Matty Taylor in the 32nd minute before Seddon fired one high over the bar.

Ola-Adebomi also shot over in the 58th minute and Cheltenham threatened late on when Josh Harrop’s cross was met by Taylor, but it was blocked in the box, before Bradbury’s stoppage-time intervention saved a point for the hosts.

Burton boss Martin Paterson admitted he thought Hugill’s shot was going to trickle in.

“As I was watching it roll, I was right behind it and I was trying everything, I even tried to let a little blow out,” he said.

“I don’t know what was going on and whether it got stuck in the mud, but I was trying to get that ball over the line, even though it’s impossible!

“Joe came on and looked sharp and again, had a chance on goal, so that is food for thought.

“Cheltenham are fourth in the form table so I knew it was going to be a hard combative game.

“I thought we defended really well and we were better in the second half. We showed promise in front of goal, but we’ll respect the point and ultimately it’s a good point.”

Carlisle boss Paul Simpson was delighted to sample that winning feeling again after a hard-fought 1-0 win at Burton ended a run of eight straight defeats.

Captain Paul Huntington’s first-half goal proved decisive to restore some pride for the Cumbrians and left his manager wanting more.

“Every single one of them tonight stuck properly to the task and did exactly what we wanted and that is a feeling, when that final whistle goes, that we have not had for many, many weeks so I am absolutely delighted with it,” Simpson said.

“Now we have to go and try and build on it and play with some pride and try and build some respect back for us.”

There was a degree of confusion over the goalscorer, with Sam Lavelle’s goal-bound header appearing to take a deflection off Huntington before beating Max Crocombe in the Burton goal.

“I thought it was Sam’s goal, but I don’t really care,” Simpson added. “It was about the team, and it is a goal that has won us the game.”

The Blues boss was delighted with the team performance, but singled out goalkeeper Harry Lewis after his first clean sheet for the club secured the win.

“I am delighted for Harry Lewis tonight,” Simpson added. “He has made three or four really big saves for us.

“I look at goalkeepers and say how points do they win us. He has actually won that for us tonight with those saves.

“I am pleased with him and with the desire that the group have shown, and it shows to me that there is still that fight left in them.”

Burton manager Martin Paterson was “bitterly disappointed” with the outcome as his side fell to back-to-back home defeats in the space of four days after two good wins on the road.

“Two games at home, no points,” Paterson said. “Bitterly disappointed and I have to front that one up as the manager. It is not acceptable. No excuses, it is not good enough.”

It is now three home defeats in a row, without a goal, and the Brewers boss, who appointed in January, said he knows what is needed.

“This is a group with high effort but if I am honest, we need to get to the training ground and do a lot of work.

“The balance of the in-possession piece was not there today and hasn’t been for two home games.

“It is easy to go on a negative slide, but I know what needs to be done to correct it but I can’t say it enough. It is on me.

“We concede a set-play which generally we are decent at and against a team fighting for their lives, ultimately it allows them to play a certain way.

“The onus is on us to break them down and that is where we need to improve quickly. I understand the supporters’ frustrations.”

Carlisle ended a run of eight straight defeats as captain Paul Huntington scored the only goal to seal a scrappy 1-0 win at Burton.

The Cumbrians had to battle hard for their victory as Albion’s home woes were extended to a third straight loss – the Brewers have failed to score in each of those defeats.

Carlisle midfielder Jack Diamond tested Max Crocombe in the Burton goal with an early effort from range after Albion had made a bright promising opening.

Burton continued to enjoy the lion’s share of the play and skipper John Brayford forced an excellent save from Harry Lewis as the home side searched for the breakthrough.

But it was Carlisle who grabbed the lead just before the half hour, Sam Lavelle heading Taylor Charters free-kick on to Huntington and beyond Crocombe.

Deji Oshilaja was denied by Lewis early in the second half before Crocombe produced an outstanding save midway through the second half to keep out Diamond’s curling effort.

Albion threw on all their attacking options at Carlisle, but the visitors clung on for a precious victory.

New Burton boss Martin Paterson was relieved after goals from Mark Helm and skipper John Brayford secured his first win with a 2-0 victory over Charlton.

Paterson was denied a point at Derby in his first game in charge but Albion never looked like relinquishing control once they got two goals in front, with a resilient defensive performance the bedrock of the victory.

“It is a really good result and I think my first and most important point will be how hard it is to win football games,” the former Northern Ireland striker said.

“It was a tough game, but we have had a good few days building in from the defeat at Derby but I kept reminding the group about the balance between results and performances and what is key to it is emotional control.

“It is a fantastic result for us today and I thought we played some good football in spells and that can continue to improve. The willingness of the group to take on the details of what I have added in has been excellent.”

Burton had not scored twice in a game prior to Paterson’s appointment since October and have now done so in successive games, with the new boss keen to give his players freedom to play.

“We want players to express themselves when they get into the final third of the pitch and that is a key thing for this team, to give them a little more confidence and a little more freedom,” he added.

“Lots of things that we wanted from the performance we can tick off today but the important thing is not to get too high with a win and we come back in this week and try to improve again.”

Charlton boss Michael Appleton came under fire from Addicks supporters during the game as his side extended a winless run to nine league games, with it now almost two months since their last victory.

“Missed opportunities in the first half cost us,” Appleton said. “We had countless opportunities, and some poor defending didn’t help”.

Albion’s opener came from keeper Max Crocombe’s long clearance being flicked on and finished by Helm, whilst poor defending allowed Brayford to poach a second just two minutes after the break.

“It wasn’t even a chance they have scored from, it’s a half chance,” Appleton added.

“We can show them the poor defending and tell them but they have to take responsibility and do it.”

The second goal, so early after half-time, killed off Charlton’s hopes of a comeback, with Appleton disappointed by his side’s response.

“The timing didn’t help but we still had 40 or 50 minutes to do something,” he said.

“Really once we went two down, we stopped passing forwards and didn’t take responsibility to get the ball forwards.

“We are where we are due to lapses of concentration, which have certainly hurt us. We have an understanding of where we think this season can go and it is up to us as staff and players to deliver that.”

Burton claimed a first win in nine Sky Bet League One games as Bobby Kamwa’s early goal sealed a 1-0 victory over play-off hopefuls Blackpool.

Kamwa’s strike came almost a year after his last goal, in the final game of 2022, and gave Albion something to build on.

Goalkeeper Max Crocombe picked him out on the left wing and some superb chest control allowed him to cut inside and swing in a cross that evaded Burton forward Bez Lubala before nestling in the far corner of the net.

Jordan Rhodes squandered a good chance for the visitors, firing over from 12 yards and ex-Blackpool man Lubala saw a long-range effort deflected wide.

Sam Hughes almost doubled Albion’s advantage two minutes into the second half, his header from Joe Powell’s corner deflecting just wide.

Ollie Norburn and James Husband flashed efforts wide as Blackpool chased a second-half equaliser.

Burton also needed crucial late blocks from skipper John Brayford and Steve Seddon to see off the threat of the Seasiders before a vital three points were finally secured.

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.”

Goals in each half from Gavin Massey and substitute Lewis Cass saw Port Vale through to the second round of the FA Cup with a 2-0 replay win over Staffordshire rivals Burton.

Massey finally broke the deadlock in the 31st minute after Burton keeper Max Crocombe had made a double save from Uche Ikpeazu and Tom Sang. The winger reacted quickest to the loose ball to leave the Albion stopper with no chance and put Vale in charge of the game.

The visitors had to weather plenty of early pressure from the Brewers but crucially did not concede, allowing them to grow into the game and begin to dominate.

The goal was a reward for Vale’s attacking after Ikpeazu had missed a sitter on the rebound after Rhys Walters has forced another good save, and Ethan Chislett squandered a good chance on the stroke of half-time, firing wastefully wide.

Cole Stockton was denied an equaliser by the flag of the assistant early in the second half as Albion sought parity but Vale finally made sure of victory when Cass converted Sang’s low cross with eight minutes remaining to set up a meeting with fellow League One side Stevenage.

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