MATTY Taylor scored twice as Oxford United beat Plymouth Argyle to go fifth in Sky Bet League One – raising hopes that a play-off place is still within reach.

The U’s top scorer bagged his 16th and 17th goals of the season after Niall Ennis had levelled for the visitors, as the hosts capitalised on several of their top-six rivals dropping points.

Visiting captain Joe Edwards headed into his own net just before the half-hour mark, but Argyle - looking to bounce back from Tuesday’s 6-0 defeat to Charlton Athletic – equalised through Ennis.

Within four minutes Taylor had restored the lead from a couple of yards out and the striker sealed victory from similar range soon after.

James Henry’s suspension opened the door for Dan Agyei to make his first start since March 23, with Elliot Lee dropping back into the midfield three.

Cameron Brannagan recovered quicker than expected from his dead leg, while Elliott Moore reached 50 appearances for the season – the first U’s player to hit that mark in 2020/21.

Given their position in the table, United had no choice but to start on the front foot and they should have gone ahead inside two minutes.

Lee, on set-piece duty in Henry’s absence, whipped a corner towards the six-yard box that the unmarked Rob Atkinson could only head wide of the far post.

United dominated the early stages, with Agyei providing a stern test for young Argle left-back Ryan Law.

The U’s forward worried his opponent with his pace and produced an inviting cross for Mide Shodipo after six minutes, but the QPR loanee got his header all wrong.

At the other end, Danny Mayor cut inside and forced Moore to make an excellent block, while Ennis looked dangerous.

United remained the side most likely to score, although they would have expected someone in a yellow shirt to find the net.

Taylor was brought down on the right edge of the penalty area and Lee whipped in a vicious cross, with the diving Edwards producing the perfect finish.

The U’s should have increased their lead in the last ten minutes before the break, Argyle goalkeeper Mike Cooper saving well after Mark Sykes brought the ball down on his chest and volleyed at goal from ten yards.

Taylor was next to spurn an inviting chance, meeting Brannagan’s floated cross at the back post only to head straight at the visiting stopper.

Loose touches littered the start of the second period, while an improved Plymouth looked more threatening.

The visitors thought they had a case for a penalty when Ennis fired powerfully at Atkinson, but referee Brett Huxtable waved away the appeals.

Argyle were enjoying their best spell of the game, though, and they capitalised 20 minutes into the half.

The lively Mayor broke into space and found Ennis, with the striker beating the offside trap to finish calmly inside Jack Stevens’ far post.

It was a setback, but United produced the perfect response by retaking the lead four minutes later.

Lee was involved again, playing in Sykes down the right and the Irishman crossed low for Taylor to crash a shot off the underside of the bar from close range.

Karl Robinson quickly brought on Anthony Forde and Alex Gorrin for Lee and Agyei, with the pair sitting in front of Brannagan and Sykes moving out to the right.

It was a change designed to see out the game, but Taylor soon ensured it would not be a nervy finish.

Moore saw his deflected effort hit the top of the bar and he met the resulting corner, helping the ball towards Taylor to acrobatically hook past Cooper on the line.

Oxford United (4-3-3): Stevens, Long, Moore, Atkinson, Ruffels, Lee (Gorrin 75), Brannagan, Sykes, Agyei (Forde 75), Taylor, Shodipo.

Unused subs: Eastwood, McNally, Hanson, Kelly, Hall.

Booked: None.

Plymouth Argyle (4-4-2): Cooper, Edwards, Woods (Watts 89), Opoku, Law, Moore (Lolos 83), Camara, Fornah (Reeves 89), Mayor, Jephcott (Hardie 78), Ennis.

Unused subs: McCormick, Macleod, Tomlinson.

Booked: Edwards.

Referee: Brett Huxtable (Devon).