Oxford boss Karl Robinson hailed the desire of right-back Sam Long after he popped up with two late goals in a dramatic 3-2 comeback win against Gillingham at the Kassam Stadium.
Gills went two goals up through Vadaine Oliver and Robbie Cundy with 18 minutes remaining.
But the U’s hit back with substitute Sam Winnall pulling one back after 74 minutes before Long headed in an equaliser six minutes from time.
And Long was in the right place at the right time again to stab home Cameron Brannagan’s cross three minutes into stoppage time to earn a victory for Oxford that takes them into the Sky Bet League One’s top six for the first time this season.
Robinson said: “It’s a special win for us. I’m really, really pleased with the mentality the players have shown.
“In the previous two games, we had played a lot of good football. Today we have shown a completely different mentality.
“We dealt with all of their balls in the first half.
“They were the better team then and they probably deserved to go two up, to be honest.
“But yesterday we worked for 10 minutes on a diamond in training if we were chasing the game and that’s what we went to – and the players moved into it seamlessly.
“It enabled our full-backs to push further up the field.
“Sam Long has had an amazing 10 days, what with signing a new contract and now scoring three goals in two games.
“Sam’s desire and perseverance is unbelievable.
“It shows why we need to keep this back four together.
“But this was a great win for us. It’s a win that I’ll remember for a long time.
“With four games to go, we’re in it – and nobody would have thought that 10 games in.”
Gillingham boss Steve Evans said individual mistakes, and not tracking runners, cost his team and he has now effectively given up on any hopes of reaching the play-offs.
He said: “We’re done now, we accept it.
“We played all the football, made all the chances, were two up and should perhaps have been four up.
“But then we didn’t go with our markers and let them back in it.
“And another one doesn’t track the runner for their last two goals.
“All credit to Oxford for their never-say-die spirit but I bet they’re glad they won’t have to face us again this season.
“We ran out of discipline. We simply didn’t do the jobs individually. Not collectively where we were tremendous, but individually.
“It was three shocking mistakes which have cost us. Some of us didn’t do our jobs and, I have to say, we’re as down as we have been all season.”