Chris Wilder hailed Asa Hall after the midfielder’s double won a tricky game for Oxford United at Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night.
It maintained Hall’s purple patch of five goals in seven games as he stepped up to claim a vital three points in United’s push for promotion from npower League Two.
Wilder was thrilled with the result, which lifted his side into the top six, but reserved special praise for his goalscoring midfielder.
He said: “I thought he was the star performer for us all night.
“We were on the back foot for long periods in the first half.
“They were difficult conditions again, the pitch wasn’t easy to play on, but we have to go and get a result and we did that.
“I think Asa will be disappointed he didn’t get a hat-trick, but the second goal was a great one and he really led us from the front.”
The former Luton Town player was delighted to make the telling contribution.
He said: “I couldn’t have asked much more. The result was excellent and to get two goals is what you dream of as a player.”
The defence, so consistent in tight games recently, were again on top form, even in the absence of Michael Duberry.
Centre backs Jake Wright and Harry Worley were outstanding in a third successive clean sheet, while goalkeeper Ryan Clarke also made some crucial stops.
Wilder said: “On nights like this, you have to rely on your defenders.
“Through a season it’s what your back four are prepared to do in games like this.
“Jake and Harry certainly gave us a platform to go and get something out of the game – if they were weak and all over the place we maybe could have struggled.”
The one concern was an ankle injury to Worley, who was forced off in the second half.
The defender will be assessed to see if he is fit enough to face Morecambe at home on Saturday.
* Shrewsbury Town’s League Two game with Port Vale was abandoned after 64 minutes due to a fire in the East Stand generator room at the Greenhous Meadow.