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League Two

We were brave - Oxford United caretaker manager Mickey Lewis

15 February 2014

Oxford United's caretaker manager Mickey Lewis admitted he decided "go for it" by bravely naming four centre forwards in his line-up, and he was repaid for his courage with a 3-0 win over Mansfield Town at the Kassam Stadium.

Former Republic of Ireland striker David Connolly struck in the 27th minute, and Nicky Wroe and Deane Smalley added further second half goals as the U's equalled their biggest home win of the season and stretched their unbeaten run to eight games.

Lewis said: "We decided to go with four forwards to go and win the game, and this result makes our three away draws we've just had now seem even better results.

"I talked it over with Andy Melville and my coaching staff and we just thought 'let's go for it'.

Lewis found a way of accommodating experienced strikers Dave Kitson, James Constable, Smalley and Connolly, with Kitson dropping deeper.

Yet Mansfield could look back on missed chances as they had plenty of the game, but lacked a killer touch in front of goal.

It was Lewis's 49th birthday, so a third successive home win proved a pleasant birthday present.

He said: "I was trying to keep that quiet really. We rode our luck a bit in the first half, and the wind was awful so it was hard to get out of our own half.

"But lads have put their bodies on the line, Ryan Clarke made two great saves, and then David Connolly showed his quality. He was great all day, he just keeps the ball for you.

"All the goals were good goals, and the third goal showed the quality we have got."

Lewis added: "You can see when the first goal went in how the confidence is lifted.

"The players are a fabulous bunch to work with. It was a really good team performance. It's lovely to have three wins on the bounce at home, let's build on that."

Wroe's goal was a superb 25-yard drive into the top corner, while Oxford's third came from flowing four-pass move that ended with Smalley following up from close range after Constable's angled drive came back off a post.

Yet Mansfield had been the better side until Connolly's breakthrough, but they could not find a way past goalkeeper Ryan Clarke.

Stags boss Paul Cox said: "I'm gobsmacked at the amount of chances we had throughout the game, someone has told me it was 14 on goal.

"That's the difference. You look at the quality of the four they had - Kitson, Constable, Connolly and Smalley. Oxford are geared for promotion, they've got that know-how in the team.

"I've said to my players, it's a massive learning curve for us. They had only five or six efforts on goal and they put three of them away.

"I'm disappointed with the first goal though, it was a sloppy goal.

"No one can do anything about the second one, it's a wonder goal, and the third came when we were pushing forward.

"We are creating a lot of chances, they just need to be put away.

"The scoreline says 3-0 and on paper it looks like a tonking, but it's frustrating because for much of the game we were the better team."

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