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Smiling Smalley back in the swing
DEANE Smalley admitted it was a huge relief to end his wait for a goal after striking Oxford United’s winner against Port Vale on Saturday.
The striker latched on to a pass from Andy Whing before firing a shot between goalkeeper Chris Neal’s legs to make it 2-1 with 14 minutes remaining.
Alfie Potter had earlier opened the scoring, but Doug Loft quickly levelled for the title contenders before Smalley’s winner.
It was the striker’s fourth goal of the season, but his first in exactly five months.
Most of that time was spent recovering from a groin injury and the 24-year-old was thrilled to end his wait for a goal.
He said: “I’ve not scored for a long while, partly through not being injured and partly through not being in the team. “Now I’m back in, hopefully I can score a couple more.
“It’s a massive weight lifted off my shoulders.”
He added: “Last year wasn’t the best for me, but I thought I started this season really well. “Unfortunately I got an injury early on which has kept me out for the majority of the season. “I’ve just got to look forward to the next eight weeks and hopefully put in more performances like that.”
The result made it back-to-back wins against the division’s top two sides in the space of four days, following a midweek victory at Gillingham.
Smalley felt it shows what the U’s are capable of ahead of Roth-erham’s visit tomorrow night.
He said: “It just shows where we want to be – if we are beating the top two teams then we should be right up there.”
Smalley had a chance to double his tally when United won a late penalty.
The former Chesterfield striker had the ball, but stepped aside for Sean Rigg, whose spot-kick was saved.
Smalley said: “I picked up the ball, but Riggy got in my ear telling me it was his old club. “It was stupid of me really, I should have taken it, but we’ve got three points and that’s all that matters.”