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Oxford United march on
Oxford Utd 3 (Chapman 21, Kinniburgh 67, Midson 84), Crawley Tn 1 (Louis 27)
ON-LOAN Rangers left back Steve Kinniburgh scored with a brilliant lob at the Kassam Stadium last night as Oxford United continued their march at the top.
Spotting keeper Simon Rayner off his line, he chipped him from 25 yards after a positive run down the left. Rayner arched back to try to save, but couldn't reach it.
It needed something special to end Crawley's five-match unbeaten run, and both Oxford goals were gems.
Earlier, Adam Chapman marked his return to the side with a bang - with a thumping free-kick goal.
The former Sheffield United player was making his first start in eight matches, because of right back Damian Batt's suspension, and he grabbed his chance with both hands.
But one of the evening's big talking points was a controversial equaliser from ex-U's centre forward Jefferson Louis, and his provacative celebrations.
The game had a quiet opening with Crawley showing plenty of confidence going forward.
Louis hit a low drive wide of the near post after drifting in from the left, and his striking partner Calum Willock volleyed wide after a neat headed pass by Thomas Pinault.
Typically, in a contest against combative Crawley, the match was all about free-kicks.
And when United won one eight yards outside the area, the free-kick was tapped to one side and Chapman's drive was handled right on the very edge of the box by fullback Sam Rents.
It must have been very close to a penalty, but it didn't matter, because when the next time Chapman stepped up to strike the free-kick, from that bit closer in, it was an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net, which gave goalkeeper Simon Rayner no chance.
That was on 21 minutes, and almost straight from the restart, Louis shot wide as Crawley tried to hit back.
Six minutes after going behind, they levelled controversially.
Mark Creighton was harshly adjudged to have fouled Louis when the big striker had a run at goal, though it looked more like just good defending.
If referee Bobby Madley was so convinced it was a foul, he should probably have sent Creighton off because he had denied a goalscoring opportunity, but he showed the big man a yellow card instead.
However, United still ended up severely punished because Louis's free-kick from 25 yards deflected off an Oxford player to make it 1-1.
Already being booed by the United fans, Louis ran half the length of the North Stand, saluting his goal in front of irate Oxford supporters, which only enflamed them more.
Jack Midson sent a drive over the bar as Chris Wilder's team tried to get their noses in front again, and James Constable drove low across the six-yard box, with Simon Clist and Matt Green just unable to reach it.
Clist became the fourth player to be booked just before half-time, and when Luke Foster was penalised for fouling Louis, when it appeared the striker had clearly backed into him, a chorus of "You Don't Know What You're Doing" echoed around the stadium.
The ref needed an escort off the pitch at half-time as Foster continued to remonstrate with him.
From the game's first corner, at the start of the second half, Constable headed wide and then the game really opened up.
Louis muscled his way past an uncomfortable-looking Creighton, who dare not foul him because he was already on a booking, and the ex-Thame united star was very unlucky to see his terrific shot come back off the underside of the bar and not cross the line.
Constable then saw a fierce shot saved after an excellent, pacy break by Green. and Foster headed straight at the keeper from a corner.
Kinniburgh had been impressive in possession, and it was his strong run down the left which earned a corner from which the momentum came for United's second goal.
The lob was Kinniburgh's first goal for the club, but that wasn't the end of it so far as United were concerned.
Midson and Constable both struck shots narrowly over and then Midson made it 3-1 on 84 minutes.
Green's shot from the right was fumbled by Rayner and Midson weedled the ball away from a defender and knocked it home from close range.
Youngster Aaron Woodley got a brief taste of action in injury time for his first-team debut, and was able to revel in the celebrations at the end of another fine win.