ASA Hall made it three goals in four games as Oxford United claimed a precious victory against Rotherham United.
The midfielder’s first-time strike made it 2-0 early in the second half, adding to Scott Rendell’s opener on the stroke of half-time.
The U’s appeared set for a comfortable win against an out-of-sorts Rotherham, but nerves were jangling late on when Lewis Grabban scored a penalty.
Michael Duberry had to clear a shot off the line in stoppage time, but Chris Wilder’s side deservedly held on for maximum points.
Peter Leven returned from injury as one of three changes to the U’s starting line-up from last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Bradford City.
Liam Davis and Oli Johnson also came into the side, while new loan signing Cristian Montano had to make do with a place on the bench.
The game took time to get going, with the only effort on target in the opening 15 minutes coming from a Ben Pringle free-kick for Rotherham, which was comfortably saved by Ryan Clarke.
United thought they had taken the lead shortly afterwards when Adam Chapman headed down for Rendell to finish, but it was ruled out for offside.
The hosts’ goal threat gradually increased as the half went on, with Oli Johnson and Dean Morgan impressive on the flanks.
The pair combined on 31 minutes, with Morgan slipping in Johnson to fire a shot from an acute angle which was turned round the post by Millers goalkeeper Rhys Taylor.
Johnson had the beating of his marker and one burst to the byline saw the winger hang up a cross which Rendell could not direct on target at full stretch.
United’s probing finally paid off two minutes into first half stoppage time.
A loose ball fell to Leven in his own half and the midfielder launched a superb through ball to Rendell, who steadied himself before slotting past Taylor.
Within seven minutes of the restart it was 2-0.
Clever play from Johnson found Andy Whing in space and his cutback was lashed into the net first-time by Hall.
The U’s went on to enjoy a spell where they carved Rotherham open every time they got the ball.
Leven fizzed a free-kick just past the post and the Scot should have made it 3-0 a minute later when Morgan played him in on goal, but Rotherham regrouped.
Hall nearly scored another spectacular goal on the hour, arching his body to steer a Chapman cross towards the far post, only to be denied by Taylor at full stretch.
The Millers eventually steadied the ship but they looked limited in possession and struggled to create chances.
Clarke needed to be alert to make one smart save in the 77th minute, getting down to stop a volley from Mark Bradley.
Out of the blue the Millers were handed a lifeline when Chapman brought down Jason Taylor in the area on 83 minutes.
Grabban stepped up to make it 2-1 from 12 yards, sending Clarke the wrong way.
It set up a tense finale and the U’s needed Michael Duberry to head Kieran Cadogan’s shot off the line in stoppage time, but the hosts saw out stoppage time for an important win to stay in the
npower League Two play-off places.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Whing, Duberry, Wright, Davis, Hall, Leven, Chapman, Morgan, Rendell, Johnson (Montano 70) Substitutes: Brown, Worley, Wilson, Tonkin