Oxford make the grade

Oxford United 4 Grazioli og 53 , Moody 66, Elliott 68, Rush 72 Peterborough 0 Attendance: 7,535
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The Independent Online
By the end the Manor Ground was rocking with jubilation as Oxford secured their return to First Division football. The margin of victory was ample, indeed impressive, but until Peterborough caved in after a bizarre own goal, the champagne was still very firmly corked and on ice. Fraught nerves and frayed fingernails were very much the order of the day.

Peterborough's young striker, Giuliano Grazioli, in only his second full game, came back to lend a hand at a 53rd-minute corner. Joey Beauchamp's cross skipped across the face of goal and a harassed Grazioli headed into his own net - the first of four goals in 19 minutes that ensured United would not have to endure the trauma of the play-offs.

With so much at stake it was no surprise when Oxford set about their task with such vigour, but the visitors could offer only token resistance in a first half that could have seen them go several goals adrift.

As early as the fourth minute, Oxford's main provider, Joey Beauchamp, cleared the way for Stuart Massey's right-wing cross and got himself on the end of it, but Jon Sheffield clawed it away and Mark Foran came to his keeper's assistance by clearing up the ensuing scramble.

As the early goal refused to come, Oxford's pressure began to display a desperate edge. Beauchamp got himself on the end of three good chances but sloppy finishing and another intervention by Sheffield saw them come to nothing. Peterborough were such also-rans that it was a quarter of an hour before Phil Whitehead, in the home goal, even had a touch.

Just before half-time, Paul Moody, who had been one of the main Oxford protagonists, hammered a low drive that brought a scrambling save from Sheffield and just to be consistent, David Rush was first to the rebound but sent it yards over.

After the own goal it was just a matter of how many the visitors would concede. In the 66th minute, Massey cleverly chipped Rush's deep cross on to Moody's forehead for the striker's 24th goal of the season. Two minutes later, the impressive Matt Elliott joined in with another scoring header. A further four minutes, and Rush beat Sheffield to Mike Ford's long through-ball to poke home the fourth.