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Oxford United 1 Stanley 2

26 April 2014

Stanley earned their first victory over Oxford at the tenth time of asking as they ran out winners at The Kassam Stadium to secure their League Two status.

James Beattie made three changes to the side that were beaten at Southend United on Easter Monday with Nicky Hunt, Josh Windass and Kayode Odejayi all named in the starting eleven.

The Reds came out of the blocks early on and almost took the lead through defender Tom Aldred, who saw his close range shot clawed round the post when forward for a corner.

The home side looked nervous defensively early on with Piero Mingoia causing problems down the left wing and Beattie's side had another good chance 14 minutes in, but James Gray could only steer his header into the arms of Ryan Clarke.

Stanley's dominance paid off and they took the lead four minutes later when the lively Gray danced past defender Michael Raynes, his effort was saved but Odejayi was able to tap home the follow up.

Oxford struggled to test Marcus Bettinelli but Josh Ruffels' dangerous, deep cross from the left-wing saw the Stanley stopper backtracking but he was able to claim, as the on-loan Fulham man has for much of this campaign.

Just shy of the half hour mark, Windass stung the gloves of Clarke with a long-range effort, which the former Salisbury man juggled in the air and caught at the second attempt.

United failed to find any real rhythm with Ryan Williams looking their most likely output down the left.

With moments until the break, his perfect cross was met by the U's top-scorer James Constable but the 11-goal striker dragged his shot well wide.

The Yellows began the second period brighter and had a glorious chance to level after Alfie Potter surged down the right, found Nicky Wroe who blasted wide from 20 yards.

That miss was to prove costly as James Gray grabbed his first goal since December when he doubled the Reds' lead on 54 minutes firing in from a difficult angle after tricking his way past David Hunt.

On 67 minutes, Williams halved Stanley's advantage when he latched onto a knock-on from the experienced Dave Kitson, took a couple of touches, and placed a calm finish past Bettinelli.

To their credit, the Lancashire outfit continued to attack as manager Beattie clearly believed his side could add to their two goals.

With 13 minutes remaining, Windass could have sealed the points for the visitors when he saw his low drive parried away by Clarke after a fine counter-attacking move.

After a strong performance from Windass, that effort was to be his final contribution of the afternoon as he was replaced by the more defensively minded Peter Murphy.

The visitors worked tirelessly until the final whistle, intercepting the U's passes to ensure the game petered out.

Referee Keith Hill blew the full-time whistle to send the 117 strong visiting support home happy in the knowledge they will be watching SkyBet League Two football next season.

Stanley: Bettinelli, Hunt,Aldred,Winnard,Buxton,Mingoia, Windass (Murphy 80,) Joyce, Hatfield Gray (McCartan 85,) Odejayi.


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