Oxford Utd 2 (Constable 8, Kitson 90+1) Dagenham & Redbridge 1 (Murphy 45+1) (From Bicester Advertiser)
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Oxford Utd 2 (Constable 8, Kitson 90+1) Dagenham & Redbridge 1 (Murphy 45+1)
DAVE Kitson headed a late goal for the second league game in succession as Oxford United struck in stoppage time to beat Dagenham & Redbridge to stay top of the table.
The veteran rose highest to nod in David Hunt's cross, just as he had to earn a 1-1 draw at Fleetwood Town a fortnight earlier.
This time his effort sealed a precious victory, which had appeared to have slipped from the home side's grasp.
United started brilliantly and James Constable's bicycle kick put them deservedly ahead on eight minutes.
But despite slicing through Dagenham repeatedly, they could not add to their advantage and out of nothing Rhys Murphy equalised with an exquisite chip on the stroke of half time.
The hosts never regained their fluency, but a spell of sustained pressure got its reward through Kitson at the death.
Jake Wright returned to the side after five weeks out with a hamstring injury, while Asa Hall came in after being ineligible for the FA Cup wins at Gateshead and Wrexham.
The pair replaced Matt Bevans and Scott Davies, with the latter forming part of the strongest bench Chris Wilder had been able to name for some time.
The United manager called on his side to emulate their dominant second half display from the draw at Fleetwood - and they delivered in a thrilling start.
For the opening half hour the hosts were utterly in charge, as Dagenham were ripped apart.
Josh Ruffels was the first to show, ghosting past two challenges before having a shot turned round the post by goalkeeper Chris Lewington.
From the corner Johnny Mullins had an effort deflected over, forcing another set piece.
Dagenham cleared the initial delivery, but when it came back in Mullins set up Constable to acrobatically volley the opening goal on eight minutes. It was the cue for a rampant spell, when it looked only a matter of time before the lead would be extended.
Ruffels had another shot well saved and Constable came agonisingly close to connecting with Kitson's cross after the forward had robbed Gavin Hoyte just outside the area.
United created openings virtually every time they won possession.
Lewington saved well from Constable, while both Williams and Kitson volleyed chances wide, all before the 30-minute mark.
Aside from a Zavon Hines shot from the edge of the penalty area which Ryan Clarke smartly parried, the visitors had barely threatened.
It looked as though they were going to be relieved to go in at the break just one goal down, but instead the Londoners came up with an equaliser in stoppage time.
There looked to be little danger when Murphy received the ball just inside the box, but as he ran towards the corner flag the former Arsenal trainee conjured a delicate chip which cleared Clarke and nestled in the far corner.
It stunned the home side, who might have found themselves behind early in the second half as Hines weaved into the area before seeing his shot blocked.
United patiently looked to play their way back into the game, but found Dagenham were a much more solid unit than in the first half.
For much of the half they were only able to threaten in patches, with blocked shots from Hall and Williams all they could muster.
Kitson also picked up a booking for an accumulation of offences. It was his tenth of the season, incurring a two-match suspension.
Sean Rigg was introduced from the bench and in the final 20 minutes United steadily increased the pressure.
The substitute quickly laid on a chance, crossing for Constable to strike a clean volley which was straight at Lewington.
Time ebbed away, but United came up with a grandstand finish in stoppage time, when Kitson finished off Hunt's cross to send the Kassam wild.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Hunt, Mullins, Wright, Newey, Williams (Smalley 84), Hall, Rose, Ruffels (Rigg 67), Kitson, Constable (Raynes 90).
Unused subs: Crocombe, Long, Marsh, Davies.
Dagenham: Lewington, Hoyte, Saah, Wilkinson, Ilesanmi, D'Ath, Ogogo, Howell, Scott (Dickson 84), Murphy, Hines.
Unused subs: Seabright, Connors, Shields, Saunders, Edgar Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire).
Attendance: 4,901 (194 visitors).
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