DAVID Connolly was keen to dish out praise to Oxford United’s early rearguard action following Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Mansfield Town.

A lot was made of caretaker boss Mickey Lewis’s decision to start with four strikers for the Sky Bet League Two clash.

But while goalscorers get the headlines, Connolly was eager to mention the vital role United’s back line played in keeping the visitors at bay.

Goalkeeper Ryan Clarke made two vital stops early on, while United’s defence withstood a barrage of attacks from Mansfield, who were playing with a strong wind at their back.

“It (the wind) was a big factor today because we struggled to get out of our half and we were indebted to Clarkey for keeping us in it,” Connolly said.

“David Hunt and Johnny Mullins were throwing themselves in front of blocks too, the whole defence did very well.

“It was a team effort to keep their score at nil, but while you can argue we could have been quite fortunate to go 1-0 up, in the second half we produced a much better performance.”

Connolly opened the scoring with a neatly-taken goal, his second at the Kassam Stadium in two games.

“It seemed a bit of a scruffy finish in the end,” he said. “It almost trickled over the line, but of course I’ll take it.

“Today was a really good three points and it was nice to contribute.

“We did not create too many opportunities and I’d love to get four or five chances a game.

“So far I think I have had two shots and they have both been goals, but that won’t last forever!”

Connolly was full of praise for Nicky Wroe’s long-range effort which made it 2-0 and gave United some breathing space.

“Nicky scored a cracking goal,” he said.

“The second goal was key and it took something special, because it deflated them a touch.”

He added: “We are at the business end of the season where you need to win matches and have goal threats in your team.

“You can’t be too gung-ho, but fortune favours the brave and credit to Mickey and Andy (Melville) for recognising that we need to win matches and putting out such an attacking team.

“We have some tough away matches coming up, and it’s not easy to win away from home, but a point on the road can be a good thing if you’re winning your home matches.”