Appleton Hails Roberts Winner
Oxford head coach Michael Appleton praised young striker James Roberts following his late winner in the 2-1 victory at Plymouth.
Roberts – recalled after a hamstring injury – swept past Plymouth defenders before steering a measured 20-yard shot from the corner of the penalty area into the top corner.
“It was a fantastic goal from a very good, young footballer,” said Appleton.
Oxford had cancelled out Lewis Alessandra's 19th minute opener when substitute John Campbell bundled the ball over the line with his first touch following a goalmouth scramble and Cheyenne Dunkley's header across the face of goal.
The complexion of the game changed following rookie 19-year-old defender Aaron Bentley's 33rd-minute dismissal for a foul on debutant Sam Long.
Appleton admitted: “The red card was a big influence on the game. Once they went down to 10 men the onus was on us to go and play. It made our players move the ball and be patient. We told them it might take the 90 minutes to win it.
“Both sides were tired having played back-to-back games. The players have got a few days now to recover and get ready for Cheltenham on Saturday.”
On the goals, Appleton added: “I think it was John's first touch and it was a poacher's goal. Chey has done very well to get at the far post and John has read the situation well.
“And what can you say about the second goal? It was a fantastic goal from a very good young footballer.
“James is capable of doing that, we know that since he walked through the door of the football club. He is only 70 per cent (fit) and as long as he keeps doing the right things hopefully he will score a few more goals like that.
“The kid has got something and he has got an opportunity as long as he keeps his feet on the ground.
“He is 18 years old and he scores bags of goals every week in the development squad and he has got four already in the first team.”
Argyle boss John Sheridan said: “We have lost the game 2-1 but I thought we were outstanding with 10 men.
“I didn't want to make a change and I know we have had two games in three days.
“Even when it went 1-1 we pushed on for the winner, Anthony O'Connor's had a great chance and Lee Cox has had a great chance so I just couldn't ask for any more I am just gutted for our lads and all the supporters because we had a great following again today.
“I am gutted we have not got the three points we deserved. If we had 11 men on I am sure we would have ended up winning. I thought we were on top of the game even with 10 men.
“I am not going to make excuses because at the end of the game Oxford look okay, they've won 2-1 and we are deflated because of all the really good work we have done.
“I have just said to the players 'take it on the chin, we've been beaten but carry on those performance levels and we will win lots of games'.”
On the red card, Sheridan added: “Aaron will learn, he's only a young kid and there's no blame.”