Des Buckingham singled out Josh Murphy after League One Oxford saw off last year’s FA Cup giant-killers Grimsby 2-0 at the Kassam Stadium to reach the third round.
Murphy made the first goal – converted by Marcus McGuane – after 11 minutes, with substitute Billy Bodin heading in the second from Cameron Brannagan’s cross 15 minutes from time to give Buckingham his first win in charge.
He said: “The whole team were very good – the one player who maybe really stood out was Murphy on the left-hand side.
“He is one of many in the team who are keen to show me what they can do and I thought he had a wonderful game.”
Buckingham, who swapped 35-degree Mumbai for sub-zero Oxford to get his first shot at management in England, added: “What pleased me most was the professionalism in how we approached the game.
“It was a professional performance from us against a team that’s also desperate to impress because they’ve got a new manager as well.
“There might have been a perception after playing Bolton on Tuesday night that we would take our foot off the gas here but I didn’t see that at all.
“I saw a very well organised and disciplined team.
“It finished 2-0 but I think we could have scored a couple more.”
McGuane followed up to score when Mariners goalkeeper Harvey Cartwright could only parry Murphy’s shot – after the winger had sprinted 60 yards up the left on a break from defence.
It all came from a Grimsby corner that was poorly executed.
And new boss David Artell, who has been in the job for less than a week, blamed himself for the goal.
Artell said: “I blame myself for it because it came from our corner – and we haven’t worked on any set-pieces, which is my fault.”
He added: “When you’ve only had one proper training session and two match-prep sessions in a week it’s very hard to change a lot.
“But I thought we gave a good account of ourselves, we controlled possession better than we did on Tuesday night at MK Dons.
“I’ve seen enough to know that we’ve got a lot of qualities and we’re going to be OK.”
Grimsby never got close to repeating their fairy-tale run of last season when they won at Southampton and made it all the way through to the quarter-finals.
Their best opportunity fell to sub Donovan Wilson who ran in behind the home defence in the second half and brought a good save from James Beadle.
The one disappointment for Oxford was seeing forward Marcus Browne, who had been sidelined for three months with a hamstring injury, have to come off the pitch shortly after going on.
Buckingham said: “Marcus has been out for 14 weeks and has been working extremely hard with his rehabilitation.
“He was cleared to play and we put him on and he was ready to go. He contributed extremely well to the second goal but then just suddenly felt a little bit tight, so rather than risk anything we brought him off.”