CRAIG Short was thrilled to see an Oxford United triumph built on defensive solidity.

Visitors Shrewsbury Town did not register a shot on target at the Kassam Stadium, as the U’s ran out 2-0 winners to go eighth in Sky Bet League One.

It was only United’s third clean sheet of the season and their first since the stalemate with Wycombe Wanderers on September 11.

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Short is a former Premier League centre back with Everton and Blackburn Rovers, so was unsurprisingly pleased at the shutout.

United’s assistant manager, standing-in for absent head coach Karl Robinson, said: “Karl often says clean sheets are overrated, it’s about wins. I like the way he wants to play the game.

“In my day it was two banks of four, you felt very secure because you had people tracking runners and you were sat deep.

“We want to go forward and in the modern game the full backs go high.

“You don’t get that cover and it’s hard for centre backs, they’ve got to go 1v1 at times.

“We’re lucky we’ve had Rob Atkinson and Elliott (Moore's) partnership last year, Jordan (Thorniley’s) looking very comfortable - like an older pro.

“Luke (McNally) did well earlier in the season, Longy (Sam Long) was our player of the year last year and Sedds (Steve Seddon) is settling in.

“It’s important to have that continuity and stability.

“Clean sheets probably are a little bit overrated, but I’m delighted to get one.”

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United started with an unchanged back four for the third game running last night – the first time they have done so this season.

But Short stressed it was not just about the defence doing their bit.

He said: “I’m quite defensive of our back four, because we play an attacking style of football.

“There were great performers last year, so it was important to give them a bit of confidence.

“It was everyone doing their shift, like Mark Sykes tracking back, so you’ve all got to do that.”

Sykes added: “It’s always touched on. When we scored the second one we were saying we don’t need to score again, just stay compact.

“We don’t need to get carried away, it’s important to keep a clean sheet as well.

“Shrewsbury had a little bit of the ball, but it didn’t cause us too much trouble towards the end of the game.”

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The U’s were ponderous before the break, but Sykes’s strike within 60 seconds of the restart signalled a better second half.

Short drew parallels with last December’s 4-0 win over Northampton Town, when all four goals came after the interval.

He said: “The first 45 was a little bit tedious, I thought we looked a bit nervous.

“I said to the players at half-time to try to get the performance level back to what we did against Plymouth, even though the result wasn’t great.

“That’s probably reminiscent of Northampton last year, when we came in 0-0 at home a little bit down.

“Then we responded in the second half by moving the ball quicker.”