Karl Robinson hailed a “sensational” performance from his Oxford side after the 2-1 victory at fellow Sky Bet League One strugglers Wigan.
The visitors dominated from start to finish at the DW Stadium, and in truth should have won by a far wider margin.
Goalscorers Matty Taylor and James Henry could each have had a couple more, while Elliott Moore headed against the bar with Wigan goalkeeper Jamie Jones beaten.
Wigan’s goal – a first senior strike for substitute Thelo Aaasgaard – came with seconds remaining, and anything other than an Oxford win would have been a travesty.
“I thought we were sensational today,” enthused Robinson. “In the first half we were very good.
“Take the Crewe and Sunderland games away, our players have been good and we’ve not had the luck we’ve deserved.
“We could have been out of sight at half-time, but it’s a great cross and a great goal from them and I thought ‘here we go again’.
“We ended up holding on, which was a bit unfair for probably 90 per cent of our performance today.
“That’s for the fans and the people that have stayed positive with us.
“This has really been hurting and don’t think I’m now thinking that we’ve cracked it.
“You know the demands I have for my players and we’ve still got a long way to go.”
For opposite number Gregor Rioch – stepping up from academy manager following the recent departure of John Sheridan – it was a tough baptism of fire.
“We knew we were coming up against a very good Oxford United side,” said Rioch.
“Karl Robinson’s a very experienced manager and his teams are always well organised.
“We knew they’d be looking for a reaction after their defeat at Crewe in midweek.
“We knew we’d have to meet fire with fire, and what we asked of the players was huge commitment and being aggressive.
“I felt we got that in abundance today, despite the result.
“Even after their second goal went in, the reaction from the players was terrific.
“To keep going and not let their heads drop is not always easy to do in the current situation.
“We totally deserved the goal at the end and we need to use that as a positive and try and just develop our game a little bit more while in possession.”
Rioch, son of former Bolton and Wigan boss Bruce, did have the satisfaction of seeing the 18-year-old Norwegian – one of his academy products – registering his first goal at this level.
“I’m obviously hurting with the result, but there were so many positives from it,” added Rioch.
“You look at someone like Thelo, who two years ago was about 5ft 2in in height.
“He wouldn’t have been able to reach a cross like that two years ago, but it just shows when you wait for young, talented players to develop, you get your rewards.
“It was a great goal from him and it gave us a big lift to take into the final stages of the game.”