Michael Appleton was surprised to see his Oxford side chalk up a first away win of the season at Bolton.

Late goals from Wes Thomas and Chris Maguire earned the U's the points at the Macron Stadium and lifted them into the top 10.

Oxford deserved the win after creating a number of second-half chances against a Bolton team now in freefall after a bright start to the season.

Manager Appleton sensed his team were improving after a 2-1 defeat at Southend on Tuesday night but watched on with admiration as they coped comfortably with Bolton's physical threat.

"A few people, especially our local lads, were getting a little bit anxious that we hadn't had an away win," he said. "I think after the performance we put in against Southend the other night, where we created a load of chances, we knew it was only going to be a matter of time.

"To come to Bolton and get a win was quite surprising. To put in the performance we did second half was excellent.

"They make it difficult, look to get the ball into Gary Madine early and play off him. We had to try and win a lot of second balls and that's something we've struggled with in the past.

"We stood up to them and won a lot of challenges, making use of the space in the second half.

"From a belief point of view it's massive, and that was the message coming out at half-time. We genuinely thought that if we showed a bit more belief in the final third in the second half they were there for the taking."

Bolton have failed to score in their last four games and have now taken just four points from the last 18 available.

"It was nowhere near good enough - the poorest we've played all season," said manager Phil Parkinson. "I am the manager and I accept full responsibility but that performance lacked energy, lacked spirit, lacked anything we were doing at the start of the season.

"We brought in some extra quality on transfer deadline day but for some reason, since then, we have gone away from the things that were making us so hard to beat.

"I cannot blame the supporters for the reaction at the final whistle. It was entirely right that they should be upset. I would be if I had paid money to watch that."