CHRIS Wilder was delighted his players were able to give Oxford United supporters a late Christmas present with a 3-1 win at Exeter City yesterday.
James Constable opened the scoring in the opening 20 minutes and bagged another early in the second half.
Peter Leven quickly added a third and although Jamie Cureton pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, United eased to arguably their best away result of the season.
Wilder was thrilled with the performance, which cheered the 314 away fans who had made the 320-mile round trip.
He said: “It rewarded the players and most importantly rewarded the supporters.
“Looking at today’s fixtures, I think the maximum (trip) every other away team (had to make) was 90 minutes, while we go for three and a half hours.
“Maybe next year the club might get a home fixture on Boxing Day.
“But we prepared properly and said if we do that and went about our business in the right way, the team would be rewarded.”
United, who have not played at home on Boxing Day since 2007, had trained on Christmas Day before travelling down to a hotel in the south west.
At one stage it looked like it may all be for nothing, with fears wet weather in Devon could call the game off.
But it went ahead as planned and, despite one heavy shower in the first half, there were no problems with the playing surface.
Constable, who now has nine goals this season, felt the result made the sacrifices worth it.
He said: “Exeter have done brilliantly to get this game on and it’s even sweeter to take the win.
“When you get that win it doesn’t matter when you’ve had to come away.
“It’s massively important, we know it’s a busy couple of weeks coming up and it’s always nice to win that first one.”
United’s pleasure with the victory was tempered slightly by injuries to Liam Davis (hamstring) and Peter Leven (thigh), which forced both off.
Davis’s looked potentially more worrying, but Wilder is hopeful it will not be too serious with a trip to AFC Wimbledon coming on Saturday.
He said: “It wasn’t one where his hamstring goes, but he came off because we just can’t afford any injuries really with the bodies we have over this period.”