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League Two

Michael Appleton eyes Oxford United improvement

30 August 2014

Oxford boss Michael Appleton praised the spirit of his players as they battled back in the second half to draw 3-3 with Dagenham at the Kassam Stadium for their first point of the season.

In a thrilling, end-to-end game there were so many efforts on goal it could easily have finished like the Daggers' 6-6 draw with Brentford in the Capital One Cup last month.

Appleton said: "I imagine it was a good game of football to watch for both sets of fans.

"It was more like a game of basketball. But we have to manage our game better than that. We were too open too soon."

Alex Jakubiak got the U's off to a flying start in the third minute, turning in Joe Riley's right-wing cross. But Dagenham were level in the seventh minute, as Jamie Cureton squared the ball for Ashley Hemmings to side-foot home.

The visitors then went in front less than two minutes into the second half with Cureton finishing neatly from Luke Howell's pass.

But two goals from Danny Hylton fired Oxford back in front. He levelled after 55 minutes, heading in Tom Newey's cross, and with 61 minutes on the clock, after Scott Doe had fouled Jakubiak, Hylton drilled home the resulting penalty.

However, Abu Ogogo levelled it up at 3-3 with a stunning 30-yard volley over goalkeeper George Long after 71 minutes.

Appleton said: "We got off to a great start and had a great platform. It was a lack of concentration that cost us for their equaliser in the first half.

"I thought Jeremy Beadle was in the stand with three errors from us for their second goal, but my players showed a lot of character after going behind so early in the second half.

"Ogogo will probably never score a better goal than that.

"But from our point of view when you score three goals, whether it's at home or away, you need to be winning those games.

"Out of possession we've got a lot to work on. In possession I've got no qualms with how we played because I thought we were very good with the ball.

"If we can just eradicate the mistakes from our game, I'm sure the wins will start to come."

Daggers boss Wayne Burnett felt it was a point gained rather than two points dropped.

"It's a very, very good point for us. Oxford have got some good players, move the ball very nicely and I'm delighted we managed to get a point,`` he said.

"Their second goal was probably a push on Brian Saah, and I let the referee know my feelings on that, and the players were adamant that the third goal wasn't a penalty.

"But we've showed good spirit and it was a fantastic goal from our captain. Ogogo has now got three goals for us this season and he's a perfect midfield player for me because he drives the team forward, he can defend, and he scores goals.

"The game was a fantastic spectacle for any neutrals, and I think a draw was the right result in the end.

"Oxford's league position is false. Once they get going, I do believe they'll be in the top half."

The draw lifted Oxford off the bottom of the table and above Accrington, who lost 2-1 at Bury.

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