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Oxford Utd 2 (Constable 44, Rose 45+2) Northampton Tn 0
JAMES Constable scored one goal and made another as Oxford United saw off Northampton Town to record their first home win since August.
The decisive moments all came in a three-minute spell at the end of the first half.
Constable finished off a superb move to open the scoring, before winning a penalty, from which Danny Rose doubled the advantage.
It was suitable reward for Chris Wilder's men, who had controlled possession and looked to move the ball quickly in the first half.
Nothampton were more ambitious after the break, but United's defence held firm to claim only their second clean sheet of the season.
Jake Wright and Andy Whing returned to the starting line-up after injury and suspension respectively.
Constable also started up front as the U's made three changes to the side which started the previous league game.
It was an unfamiliar shape, though, with the hosts lining up 3-4-3 as David Hunt and Tom Newey were pushed forward to become wing backs.
The hosts made a nervy start, as Roy O'Donovan intercepted a back pass from Michael Raynes, but the centre back recovered to concede a corner.
Northampton arrived second bottom in the table and their priority was to contain United, who dominated possession.
The visitors did carve out the first clear chance, on 12 minutes, when Kevin Amankwaah blasted wide after a clever pass from Gary Deegan.
Whing was the first to force Cobblers Matt Duke into action with a volley from the edge of the box.
The goalkeeper dealt with it comfortably, but was more tested by a stinging drive from Sean Rigg shortly afterwards.
Northampton's fans celebrated a spectacular strike from Darren Carter on the half hour mark, before quickly falling silent as they realised the ball had only hit the side netting.
Wilder had urged for a quicker tempo from his side and they answered him on 44 minutes with a crisp move which ripped the Cobblers apart.
A flick by Dave Kitson found Whing in the centre circle. The midfielder did not hesitate, releasing Constable first-time and the striker backed his marker into the box before burying a finish for his fourth goal of the season.
It got even better for the hosts before the break, as Constable was tripped in the area by Ben Tozer.
Rose assumed the penalty duties and sent Duke the wrong way to send the U's in 2-0 up at half time.
Northampton brought on Ivan Toney at the break to give lone striker Roy O'Donovan some back-up.
The young striker quickly made an impact and only a vital block from Raynes denied him a clear chance within five minutes of the restart.
Northampton had to be more adventurous than in the first half as they sought a way back into the game.
Aidy Boothroyd's side saw more of the ball, but they rarely looked like opening United up.
The hosts did a decent job of taking the sting out of the game and did not take any unnecessary risks.
With 15 minutes remaining Constable should have doubled his tally for the afternoon.
The striker played in Rigg, whose cross found Hunt on the other side of the box. He picked out Constable, who snatched at the chance and failed to make a clean connection.
Ryan Williams was lively as a late substitute, shooting over in stoppage time as Northampton took greater chances going forward.
It remained 2-0, though, and the home fans celebrated seeing their side win at the Kassam Stadium for the first time in six games.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Raynes, Mullins, Wright, Hunt, Whing, Rose, Newey, Kitson, Constable, Rigg (Williams 76).
Unused subs: Crocombe, Smalley, Hall, Davies, Bevans, Ruffels.
Northampton: Duke, Amankwaah, Reid, Doumbe, Tozer, Collins (Toney ht), Dallas, Deegan, Carter, Morris (Emerton 71), O'Donovan (Hooper 67).
Unused subs: Demontagnac, McNamara, Harriott, Dias.
Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire).
Attendance: 6,177 (910 visitors).
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