Onloan striker Jordan Rhodes struck two superb goals as Oxford United survived their potentially tricky FA Cup test in deepest Wales on Saturday.

The striker, who was given permission to play for Oxford in the FA Cup by his parent club Ipswich only last week, turned and hit a 25-yard screamer over the keeper and into the far corner of the goal from out wide on the left at the start of the second half.

Then, when Merthyr, despite playing with ten men, equalised with 20 minutes to go through substitute Marcus Griffiths, it looked as though the U's may have to return toi the Kassam Stadium for a replay they didn't want on Tuesday.

But Rhodes came to their rescue again, with another great finish, this time, a low left-footed drive into the bottom right corner from just inside the box after he had used his strength to get past two challenges.

Merthyr played the second half of this fourth qualifying round tie with ten men after big centre forward Mike Jones was sent off just before the break for a second yellow card.

Ben Weedon, filling in at left back, was making his FA Cup debut, and Jim Smith also brought in Mickey Corcroan to play at centre half alongside Chris Willmott, and Danny Rose as the advanced midfielder in what was effectively a diamond midfield.

It was after the U's had forced the game's first corner, in the tenth minute, that they got their first real chance. The ball was played back out right and Phil Trainer's cross deflected into the path of Rhodes, who struck it sweetly but lashed his volley over.

Moments later, Rhodes beat the keeper in a race to the ball. Although his touch took him wide, he then swivelled and nearly beat Ashley Morris at his near post, the keeper just turning the low, skidding effort around his post.

Merthyr's big No 9 Mike Jones tested Billy Turley with a long-range drive, and Rose also fired in a shot from outside the box, which flew wide.

Conditions were very wet after persistent steady drizzle, so it was understandable that both teams were looking to fire in shots whenever they could.

The British Gas Business Southern premier division side were also eager to pump balls into the box, and with one dangerous cross, Luke Foster did well to head away for a corner, though it wasn't far off being an own goal.

As if United didn't have enough injury problems at the moment, Rose suddenly pulled up in pain clutching his hamstring just after the half hour mark, and he was replaced by Michael Standing.

Before Standing had a chance to come on,. Merthyr striker Jones committed a dangerous challenge on Willmott, which rightly earned him a yellow card.

However, when home keeper Morris was similarly shown yellow ten minutes before half-time, it seemede he had got off very lightly.

Showing his sharpness once again, Rhodes touched the ball to one side of him on the edge of the area when chasing a through ball and would have been able to shoot into a near-empty goal had he stayede on his feet, but Morris deliberately clipped him.

The Oxford United fans were chanting "Off, Off" but after calling the goalkeeper over, Wiltshire referee Simon Hooper only booked him. Rhodes fired the 25-yard free-kick wide.

Big man Jones was the main threat to the visitors, and he hammered in another long-range drive, which Turley saw was flashing just wide of his left post.

But Jones was not to last long. He left Foster writhing on the ground with a late challenge, and after the ref consulted his linesman, who had been flagging to catch his attention, he pointed Jones towards the dressing rooms.

With the extra man, United began the second half strongly and with the clear intention of passing the ball around the pitch to tire their opponents.

And it was after doing just this, with Quinn instigating the move from the back, that Rhodes turned and smashed his brilliant opening goal from the left edge of the area.

Merthyr tried to hit back, and Steve Williams had an effort from the right beaten out by Turley.

Then midway through the second half, Craig Stiens nodded narrowly wide, with Turley scrambling across his goal.

Merthyr's two subs combined for their equaliser with a move which began when United's offside trap failed dismally. Matthew Harris broke free down the right, and his low cross was turned in by Marcus Griffiths as Turley came out.

Rhodes struck again on 81 minutes, to the obvious relief of Jim Smith on the touchline.

United then threw on Alex Fisher, and Fisher was immediately involved, inches away from turning in Rhodes's cross from the bye-line.

Oxford Utd: Turley, Foster, Willmott, Corcoran, Weedon (Pettefer 83), Bailey (Fisher 82), Quinn, Rose (Standing 33), Trainer, Odubade, Rhodes. Subs not used: Booked: Bailey.