Oxford United’s stunning comeback against Gillingham came down to a refusal to accept they were beaten, says Sam Long.

The right back equalised late on and grabbed a stoppage-time winner to seal a 3-2 win for the U’s, who had been 2-0 down with just 18 minutes remaining.

The verdict: Sam Long a fitting hero in against-the-odds win

It completed a dream week for Long, who signed a new three-year contract last Monday and scored against Shrewsbury Town 24 hours later, while United climbed into the Sky Bet League One play-off places for the first time this season.

Karl Robinson’s side looked out of the race after they lost 2-1 to Accrington Stanley a fortnight ago and when U’s academy graduate Robbie Cundy put Gillingham two goals ahead their top-six hopes were again hanging by a thread.

But Sam Winnall responded immediately to give United hope and Long knew they would be difficult to contain.

WATCH: Highlights of United's win

The 26-year-old said: “It was so important, it settled us down and gave us the momentum.

“Once we got the equaliser only one team was going to win the game.

“We had plenty of time on the clock, but you’ve always got to believe.

“It’s never over.

“If you go 2-0 down you can’t just be defeated and it’s credit to all the boys that we never gave up.”

Gillingham had stopped United getting into their stride for much of the afternoon, with Vadaine Oliver and Cundy seemingly putting them on course for victory.

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But morale-boosting wins over Crewe Alexandra and Shrewsbury Town in the previous seven days gave the U’s belief and Long felt that shone through.

The No 12 said: “We know that we’re capable of winning games against any team in this league.

“People were writing us off after the Accrington game, but we’re approaching it game-by-game and the character of the boys is incredible.”

It was the latest chapter in Long’s best season to date and head coach Karl Robinson hailed his progress.

He said: “Everyone that has come in has made Sam better, because he’s looked at it in frustration and said ‘I want to fight for that place’.

“He asked me the other day if he’d ever get the No 2 shirt – he’s making a tremendous statement for it.

“He’s developing into a terrific full-back and one we’re very lucky to have.”