Michael Appleton felt Oxford United produced arguably their best performance since he took over as manager to claim a 1-0 win at Bury.The hosts had the better of a tight affair until defender Adam El-Abd was sent off in the 65th minute, and four minutes later Danny Hylton's penalty was saved by Bury keeper Nick Pope.
But Callum O'Dowda, who replaced Alex MacDonald at half-time after he nearly got sent off, struck on 85 minutes to send the U's eight points clear of the Sky Bet League 2 drop zone.
"It was probably our biggest win since I've been here - certainly in the manner in which we did it," said Appleton.
"The lads kept their discipline. The shape and the organisation of the team was very good.
"It was a big test, up against a form team, so to come to their own patch and keep another clean sheet, we're delighted.
"It took a lot of guts and determination not to let the penalty miss affect them, and it was a fantastic finish by Callum, very composed, against a very good keeper.
"He was outstanding for them, as was Ryan Clarke for us. He made two fantastic saves at the right time."