Lincoln boss Michael Skubala labelled as “unbelievable” his team’s crucial 1-0 win at Oxford.

The Imps kept their season alive with a resolute defensive performance and a victory thanks to Danny Mandroiu’s 47th-minute penalty after Ruben Rodrigues was adjudged to have fouled Ben House.

The win enabled Lincoln to leapfrog Blackpool into seventh place in League One, just two points behind Oxford with two games to go.

Skubala said: “We were unbelievable – we have a special group here. We played for the shirt, you could see that.

“I can’t really pick anyone out, we were collectively fantastic and I’m just so proud of them.

“We said to them before the start ‘let’s just keep it alive and then see what the pressure might do’ and we’ve done that.

“We knew we couldn’t come here and dominate the ball, Oxford have some very good players.

“But we thought we could catch them on the counter and hurt them and the players carried out the game plan to perfection.

“It was a great penalty from Danny Mandroiu. He was as cool as ice.

“The way we ran the clock down was perfect.”

Lincoln’s win came despite losing Reeco Hackett in only the fifth minute to a bad arm injury.

They also had substitute Dylan Duffy sent off for a second yellow card in the 83rd minute, when he fouled Marcus Browne, but the 10 men held out.

Oxford manager Des Buckingham was unhappy with the penalty award.

He said: “I’ve watched it back and it’s as clear as day…. Ruben Rodrigues won the ball.

“So, yes, I’ve got complaints about the penalty because it’s a key moment and in the end that’s what has decided the outcome of the game.

“I think we played well enough, especially in the first half, to feel we should have won the game – we created a couple of big opportunities.

“If we keep presenting opportunities like the ones to Tyler Goodrham and Mark Harris I’m sure they’ll take them.

“But we’d scored 13 goals in the last three games, maybe we had used up our share.

“We’re in a strong position with two games to go. So I’m not going to stand here and keep moaning about the penalty – we’ve just got to refocus for Stevenage at home on Friday night.

“I’m disappointed the performance here hasn’t given us the result because we definitely deserved to get something from this game.”

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 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.”

Josh Murphy inspired Oxford to an emphatic 5-0 win over Peterborough that keeps them on track for the League One play-offs.

Despite being without key players Elliott Moore and Cameron Brannagan, the U’s were brimming with confidence following successive four-goal wins, and were three up by the break.

They took the lead in the 19th minute when Jadel Katongo fouled Murphy in the box and Mark Harris blasted home the spot-kick.

Murphy headed in keeper Jed Steer’s clearance to make it 2-0 just after the half hour, and the pacy midfielder created the third in the 39th minute for Ruben Rodrigues, who finished neatly from 12 yards.

Owen Dale also hit the post and missed an open goal before the interval, with Oxford dominant.

Posh had chances too, Ricky-Jade Jones missing from close range and striking the underside of the bar from Ephron Mason-Clark’s cross.

Visiting boss Darren Ferguson showed his displeasure by hauling off four players at the interval, but Rodrigues met Finn Stevens’ cross with a sublime diving header after 58 minutes to make it 4-0.

Greg Leigh then hit the post before substitute Billy Bodin completed the rout in the 89th minute with a fine individual effort.

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.

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 brushed aside Port Vale with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Vale Park.

Ciaron Brown lashed home and Josh Murphy whipped a left-footed effort past Connor Ripley as the U’s dominated throughout.

Murphy showed early glimpses of his quality down the left before playing in Billy Bodin. Vale’s Dan Jones on the line swept the effort clear.

After 16 minutes, Brown notched the visitors in front. The defender latched on to a loose ball and fired home from the edge of the six-yard box.

With Vale pinned in their own half, Ripley got two hands to Elliott Moore’s flick midway through the first half.

After 49 minutes, Murphy doubled Oxford’s advantage. He skipped inside on to his left foot and his cross-shot evaded everyone and nestled in the corner.

Owen Dale zipped an effort wide, and Murphy was sluggish in getting a shot away, as Oxford sought a third.

Baylee Dipepa was denied a consolation for the hosts when he turned a strike into a crowd of Oxford shirts.

Ian Evatt reckons Bolton can achieve promotion from Sky Bet League One provided they can replicate the performance of their 5-0 demolition against shell-shocked Oxford.

Josh Dacres-Cogley scored on his 28th birthday with further goals coming from Nathaniel Ogbeta, George Thomason, Aaron Collins and Josh Sheehan.

“If we can replicate that eight more times we won’t have too much to worry about,” said Evatt as Bolton stay hard on the heels of the top two – Portsmouth and Derby.

“That is what I want my team to look like,” added Evatt. “When they play like that, it makes me a proud manager.

“Everyone knows we are capable of that performance, we have got to do it more and more.

“We have been asked a lot of questions and it is up to us to come up with the answers. And the players know if they dip below those standards I will tell them.”

Ogbeta set Bolton on the way to victory with a sweet 19th-minute strike from Thomason’s pass.

Dacres-Cogley was gifted a present of his celebratory goal. Goaleeper Jamie Cumming and defender Greg Leigh collided attempting to deal with a long ball from Ricardo Santos and the full-back fired into an empty net.

Thomason’s long-range strike took a deflection past Cumming, but there was no mistaken identity as Collins finished off a flowing passing move to make it 4-0 and register Bolton’s 100th goal of the season in all competitions.

Man of the match Sheehan curled in a superb fifth goal after 69 minutes.

“We don’t score tap ins or scruffy goals,” said Evatt. “I am so proud of the players.

“Our focus in and out of possession was great and we looked sharp with the ball. When this team is at its fluid best we are a good team to watch.”

Oxford boss Des Buckingham admitted the result was a “difficult one to take” as they suffered a third defeat in their last four games.

“It is not something I saw coming,” Buckingham admitted. “Bolton played extremely well, but we played poorly and that’s the reality of it.

“We will get to the bottom of it. I don’t want to jump to things right now. I need to take the emotions out of the situation.

“The scoreline isn’t a true reflection of who we are and what we are. We will make sure we delve deep to ensure it does not happen again.

“If you get beaten anywhere 5-0, it is an embarrassment. It is difficult one to take, even more so because we were on TV trying to showcase what we do and how we do it and showcase Oxford across the country.

“We couldn’t do that across any area and we made it very easy for them at times.”

Birthday boy Josh Dacres-Cogley scored as Bolton revved up their automatic promotion push in Sky Bet League One with a 5-0 demolition of Oxford.

Dacres-Cogley, who turned 28 on Tuesday, was gifted his 27th-minute goal as goalkeeper Jamie Cummings and Greg Leigh collided attempting to deal with skipper Ricardo Santos’s long ball.

Wanderers, back to winning ways after two successive away draws – were already 1-0 ahead.

Nathaniel Ogbeta produced a superb finish in the 19th minute from George Thomason’s assist to register his first goal since a debut strike at Carlisle.

Cameron Brannagan’s free-kick into the side-netting was Oxford’s only response in the opening half.

In front of the Sky TV cameras, things went from bad to worse for Des Buckingham’s side in a 10-minute spell after the break.

Both Thomason and Aaron Collins claimed Bolton’s third goal after 59 minutes, though, the former was credited with the goal after his shot took a deflection in off luckless Leigh.

Wanderers’ fourth scorer was definitely Collins, who finished off a sweeping move six minutes later.

Josh Sheehan then wrapped up a statement victory with a superb left-foot finish as Bolton cemented third spot.

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.”

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.

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