Oxford secured their sixth away win in Sky Bet League One as a 3-2 triumph at Leyton Orient gave interim manager Craig Short the perfect start.
A brace from Ruben Rodrigues and one from Billy Bodin proved decisive, with the hosts replying with a Fin Stevens own goal and a strike from Ruel Sotiriou.
A howler by Sol Brynn presented the visitors – who saw boss Liam Manning take over at Bristol City this week – with the opening goal. The goalkeeper’s intended clearance was directed straight to Rodrigues, who drove the ball into an empty net.
Then in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, Rodrigues struck a post but the ball fell to Bodin, who headed the ball into the net from 15 yards out with Brynn stranded.
Within two minutes of the start of the second half, Oxford extended their advantage when Orient failed to clear a corner and Rodrigues scored from close range in the 47th minute before the home side began their revival a minute later.
A teasing Tom James cross was turned into his own net by Stevens and then, in the 64th minute, Sotiriou volleyed home a header by Aaron Drinan before Dan Happe was denied an equaliser when his header struck a post.
Despite coming under sustained pressure, the U’s held out to maintain their automatic promotion quest.