Oxford boss Karl Robinson was full of praise for his side after posting a 3-2 win at Plymouth.
Josh Ruffels, Sam Long and match-winner Olamide Shodipo – who won and scored an 82nd-minute penalty – netted for United after Panutche Camara fired Plymouth ahead in the 12th minute.
Argyle top scorer Luke Jephcott roofed home a late second from the spot to set up a tense finish but Oxford held on to claim a third straight win.
Robinson said: “It was a really pleasing all-round performance and a nice way to end the year with a win.
“I have watched Plymouth in the last few games and they have been really good.
“It was a frustration with the way they scored their goal as we spoke about the way they hit you on the outside shoulder. As soon as that happened, we changed the system very quickly.
“We came out in the second half and created some really good chances. It was really good.
“I thought the game-plan worked but it is not about game-plan, it is about desire.
“Out of possession we got it spot on after 20 minutes and really limited their chances.
“I have seen this team go to The Valley and against Ipswich. I have seen this team out-play the opposition a number of times and I don’t think they can say that tonight.
“In the first 10, 20 minutes everything dropped to them. The way we kept it at 1-0 was equally pleasing as well. I still think there is more to come from some of the players.
“The year 2020 has been hard for everybody, a really testing time. The one thing we hope that we can bring to people is that we put a smile on people’s faces for a short period of time.”
Plymouth boss Ryan Lowe was left disappointed by the outcome.
He said: “I felt comfortable for large parts of the game – especially the first half, when I thought we were very good and scored a very good goal.
“In the second half we just came away from it a little bit and didn’t play out of our half in the way we like, that may have been because Oxford came on the high press or whatever.
“But I am still giving our boys the licence to keep playing because we have arguably got one of the best footballing midfielders in the league in Lewis Macleod, who can take and receive the ball anywhere.
“So we need to get him on the ball more often so we can get our wing-backs and midfielders up the pitch – because then we are away as you have seen tonight with the first goal.
“Our first goal was something special with the way it was created and then second half we have just come away from that.
“We are disappointed in the way they have scored their goals. But – as we have all so far this season – we will continue to learn and see where these lessons take us.
“We look to bounce back at home to Gillingham and show a bit more nous on Saturday.”
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