Deane Smalley's early goal earned Oxford a 1-0 win over Torquay, only their fifth home victory of the campaign.
A well-worked move in the sixth minute finished with Ryan Williams providing a clever reverse pass which Smalley slotted past keeper Michael Poke for his eighth goal of the season to boost their promotion hopes.
It was struggling Torquay's first defeat since Chris Hargreaves took over as manager earlier in the month.
The Gulls went close in the first half through Kevin Nicholson's fiercely driven free-kick that goalkeeper Ryan Clarke spilled and then from Lee Mansell's well-struck shot.
But Smalley should really have put Oxford two up before then. He controlled Tom Newey's cross with a good first touch but allowed Poke to make a smothering save.
And in the second half Smalley was again denied when his low, angled shot was cleared off the line by Anthony O'Connor.
Kevin Nicholson nearly equalised for Torquay in the 90th minute with a brilliant 25-yard free kick but Clarke tipped it onto the bar.
Oxford skipper Jake Wright was then badly injured while making a headed clearance off the line and left the pitch on a stretcher.