PASSION pumped from every pore as Town grabbed their most significant win since the 1995 play-off final at Wembley.
Peter Jackson's battlers circled the wagons around Efe Sodje's crunching 41st minute headed winner and put themselves firmly in the thick of the promotion hunt.
Every man - and every fan - in blue and white stripes did their bit as Oxford's season-long unbeaten home run was left in ruins by a Town display crammed with character and bristling with belief.
Jackson greeted every delighted team member as they left the pitch, trading `high fives' and reserving a special hug for his `Captain Marvel' Sodje, whose overall contribution was immense.
The fans lapped it up, not only when Sodje ripped off his shirt and ran half the length of the pitch in celebration of his third goal of the season, but at the final whistle when chants of `we are going up' reverberated around the three-sided Kassam Stadium.
Sodje was last to leave the party, holding his head high in the face of Oxford critics who scored a massive own goal by booing his every step.
Vilified by the home team and support for his involvement in the McAlpine dismissal of striker Julian Alsop (who subsequently got a five-match ban), the Nigerian international responded with a performance of World Cup quality in a match which was as tight, tense and keenly fought as the Division III table would suggest.
Town held sway because of Sodje's furious finish to Tony Carss' cracking corner and the spirit of endeavour which shone from every player in front of debutant keeper Paul Rachubka.
Given the nod ahead of Phil Senior, who has played a big part in Town's glorious run, the Charlton loan man was a picture of calm, even at the height of Oxford's second half pressure.
So well did Sodje and his partners, Nathan Clarke and Steve Yates, play that Rachubka was threatened only twice.
Firstly, he palmed away a blistering free-kick from Matt Robinson as the whistle blew for a foul on Yates in the centre of the goal and secondly, five mintues from time, when unmarked substitute Jefferson Louis headed over from six yards out when he should have buried an equaliser.
Apart from that, Town defended bravely and counter-attacked with no small amount of skill and ingenuity.
Andy Holdsworth had another storming game at right wing-back while his opposite number, Anthony Lloyd, was troubled only by the pace and crossing of substitute Chris Hackett, who proved the only real danger for Ian Atkins' frustrated side.
In midfield, Town traded knocks with Jon Worthington ploughing into tackles, Carss battling tirelessly in the air and on the deck and Danny Schofield using his skills to good effect in keeping possession towards the end.
It wasn't the sort of match for strikers Andy Booth and Pawel Abbott to gorge themselves on chances, but they worked tremendously hard against Oxford's craggy back three and held the ball up well to run out time towards the end.
Tempers frayed at times, but referee Paul Armstrong kept a close watch and he was unimpressed when pacy Mark Rawle twice went down appealing for penalties under challenge from Yates in the first half.
Town responded with a cracking 30-yard shot from Worthington on 22 minutes, which keeper Andy Woodman could only gather at the second attempt, but a tight half ended with incident aplenty.
First Sodje powered in what proved to be the winner, then he was caught by Rawle as he made a clearance and had to be carried off on a stretcher, much to the amusement of the Oxford fans who waved him on his way. After treatment in the doctor's room, however, Sodje burst back out for the second half to a standing ovation from the travelling Town faithful.
It was a good job, because Oxford lumped the ball forward continuously in search of an equaliser and increased the pressure after the introduction of flying substitute Chris Hackett on the right.
Town played cleverly on the break, with Booth and Carss having shots charged down and Schofield going close, while Abbott fired a shot just over when he was isolated on a raid into the box.
Breakneck defending, particularly by Yates to keep out a 71st-minute Alsop charge from a corner, kept Town's noses in front, as did Rachubka's fingertips when Robinson unleashed his free-kick.
Many Oxford fans were on their way home by the time Louis missed their best chance of the match, and Town were left to celebrate coming up with the points on a very big occasion.
That hasn't really happened since '95, as two relegations and a failed play-off effort would suggest, and Jackson's side look capable of giving credence to those chants. `The Town are going up . . .'
How they rated:
Paul Rachubka Very solid debut. Made a great save from a Robinson free-kick. Top positioning. Kicked and handled superbly Rating: 8/10
Andy Holdsworth Another terrific display. Tackled well and made some good attacking runs to link with Booth, Abbott and Schofield. Excellent Rating: 8/10
Anthony Lloyd Had his problems dealing with substitute Hackett, but also made some gritty tackles and used the ball nicely Rating: 8/10
Steve Yates Almost crushed on three occasions as Oxford tried to bully the ball into the net. Brave and classy performance Rating: 9/10
Efe Sodje The more the Oxford fans booed, the better he got. Great goal and a brilliant performance. Truly Captain Marvel Rating: 10/10
Nathan Clarke The scout sitting next to me said "this guy can play a bit." Read game superbly, tackled and headed magnificently Rating: 9/10
Tony Carss Back in the side and played well. Aggressive in the air, clever on the deck and enjoyed the physical battle Rating: 8/10
Jon Worthington Did his usual mountain of work and unleashed one cracking 30-yard drive which Woodman got at the second attempt Rating: 8/10
Danny Schofield Involved in some neat attacks, but his block tackle on McCarthy late on summed up the spirit of the whole team Rating: 8/10
Andy Booth Tough test against three big defenders but held the ball well and was close to a clinching goal in the final minute Rating: 8/10
Pawel Abbott Not his best display, but on three occasions he made surging bursts to keep possession and run down the clock Rating: 8/10
SPOTLIGHT ON ... Efe Sodje
He may be the man Oxford love to hate, but Town's inspirational captain had the last laugh with a performance described as `awesome' by manager Peter Jackson. His winning goal was brutal in its execution and earned three precious points
Town came under a lot of pressure in the second half, but debutant keeper Paul Rachubka had few troubled moments. Steve Yates illustrated the determination with a brave clearance from a corner in the 71st minute
Subs used: Oxford: Hackett for McNiven 56, Steele for Rawle 66, Louis for Quinn 80. Town: Edwards for Abbott 90.
Subs not used: Oxford: Waterman, Ashton.
Scorer: Town: Sodje 40.
Referee: Paul Armstrong (Berkshire).
Bookings : Oxford: McCarthy, Alsop. Town: Lloyd.
Shots on target: Oxford 2, Town 3.
Corners : Oxford 4, Town 3.
Caught offside: Oxford 4, Town 3.
Free-kicks awarded: Oxford 12, Town 22.
Attendance: 7,278 (Away: 1,292).