Oxford boss Karl Robinson felt his team were back to their best in the first half as they cruised to a 3-1 win over Charlton at the Kassam Stadium.
Billy Boden, Matt Taylor and sub Gatlin O’Donkor scored as United bounced back well from the heavy Boxing Day defeat at Ipswich, with Miles Leaburn netting for Charlton.
Robinson said: “The way we played in the first half – that was Oxford United – front-foot defending, open, scary, flippant at times, but wonderful to watch.
“In the second half they score a good goal and Ed McGinty makes one of the best saves of the season to keep it at 2-1.
“And in the last half an hour I thought we looked a very good football team, and one that is getting better, against a good Charlton team.
“When he’s fit, Josh Murphy is the best player in the league. We took him off a bit earlier than we’d planned because he had cramp.
“We took Djavan Anderson off and brought Stuart Findlay on to go a bit more solid in our play.
“Gatlin O’Donkor raises the level, and that excites people.
“We’d had some harsh words and honest conversations after the Boxing Day game and the players showed a lot of bravery in their play this evening – and then real coolness in the closing stages.
“I suppose the over-riding feeling for me near the halfway stage of the season is one of frustration because we’re probably eight points off where we should be. There have been so many games where we’ve come away with less than we should.”
For Charlton’s new manager Dean Holden it was a first defeat since he took charge, and he admitted the first 45 minutes was concerning.
Holden said: “There were some strong words said at half-time.
“You can’t expect to get anything out of a game if you come out and play like that in the first half.
“For the first 10 minutes we were OK and then we let in two goals and defensively we were getting pulled all over the place.
“We didn’t play. We had moments where we had possession and we could have used the ball better but we didn’t do that.
“So there was work to be done at half time. We made three attacking changes and I have to say, second half, we showed a good reaction. The youngsters came on and did well.
“We knew what we were walking into, in terms of the squad and how unbalanced it is but the youngsters showed in the second half what good players they can be.
“But in the first half there were so many spaces down the sides, the distances were miles too big between players and we needed to get help in that midfield area.
“But we’ll work with what we’ve got, and we’ve got a couple of days now to prepare for Portsmouth on Sunday.
“This is not something we’ll forget – we’ll learn and work on it. We said from day one there would be no excuses…this is a test now.”
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