Aldershot manager Andy Scott has survival in his sights after his side moved to within two points of safety with victory over Oxford.
Jeff Goulding came off the bench to grab an 87th-minute winner, in a thrilling game at the EBB stadium that ended 3-2, after the Shots threw away a two-goal lead. Paul McCallum gave Aldershot a controversial lead when the linesman confirmed he had bundled Craig Reid's cross over the line despite Damien Batt's attempted clearance.
Reid doubled the lead from the spot but Scott Davis and Jon-Paul Pittman drew Oxford level either side of Michael Raynes' red card. But the Shots hit back through Goulding to end a run of six games without a victory for the league's bottom club.
"We made it hard for ourselves but the way we responded was tremendous and we deserved to win the game. We are right back in the hunt," said Scott. "It gives us a real boost. This is why we turn up - it's so people go home happy. The crowd got right behind us and lifted us.
"Four points over the weekend is a good return. Now we are starting to pick up the points we deserve and we have to go to Port Vale and put in another performance. We are in touch with a lot of teams now and that's brought us back to the pack. From what I've heard the first goal was clearly over the line and there wasn't much appeal from the Oxford players."
Aldershot deservedly took the lead through 19-year old McCallum, on loan from West Ham, but the first half was marred when Aaron Morris was stretched off in the 18th minute with a dislocated knee. But after the break, when Liam Davis brought down Morris' replacement Adam Mekki in the box, top-scorer Reid dispatched the penalty with ease on 49 minutes.
Tensions mounted after he was booked celebrating the goal and Raynes picked up his own booking for a foul on Reid. Davis' 25-yard free-kick got one back for United but Raynes was sent off after his second yellow for bringing down Reid. And although Pittman thought he had rescued a point, Goulding's winner left manager Chris Wilder ruing poor decision making.
"I think it's difficult for the linesman to see, unless she is unbelievably sure, which she said she was," he said. "I'm a bit perplexed how she can be so clear and sure on the decision. We lost Micheal Raynes but all we've done is given them an opportunity to win the game with the free-kick.
"It's knocked the stuffing out of everyone. The decisions that the players were making absolutely killed us and put us on the back foot. We aren't in the position we want to be and I understand that.
"We aren't fighting for our lives though, we've got four games to go and people need to assess at the end of those games. I know there are murmurs and rumblings but I'm not walking away from anything."