Salop beat the U’s 1-0 at the weekend thanks to Ryan Bowman’s goal in the 75th minute. The win made it five League One victories in succession for Cotterill’s men, and it was the first time since December 2014 they had won at the Kassam Stadium.
Earlier in the campaign, Shrews secured a 1-1 draw against Karl Robinson’s men in the reverse fixture at the Meadow after Matthew Pennington cancelled out Cameron Brannagan’s opener in a game Shrews arguably should have won.
And the Town boss says the four points they have taken off the U’s this year demonstrate how far they have come as a club since he took over. Cotterill explained: “I said when I came in here, Oxford were streets ahead of us when I came into Shrewsbury.
“We came down here and we got beat 4-1 by them, there were a couple of 3-2 games at home that went their way.
“And I thought earlier in the season during the 1-1 game at our place I thought we had closed the gap and I thought we should have won the game that day.
“It has been a mammoth task to try to bridge that gap from a team that I took over that was bottom of League One that really was going to get relegated. To now, all of a sudden, come here and beat these on their own patch.”
The result on Saturday takes Salop to within touching distance of the play-off places – they trail sixth-placed Barnsley by just three points.
Last season Town ended up finishing 18th in League One, but at present they are exceeding that comfortably, looking up rather than down. And Cotterill has paid tribute to his staff for helping him – while also saying the budget he is working with at Shrewsbury is much smaller than the Oxford boss Robinson has available to him – making the achievement even better.
He said: “I think the squad have taken massive steps but it has taken a long time because there were a lot of players here and a lot of players in contracts and it has been incredibly hard work.
“No one will ever know the hard work that has gone into that, but you know they are a great set of lads to go in and work with every day.
“All of my staff they are all pulling in the same direction, you know so well done to them.
“We will be nowhere near it in terms of money so I think that’s a great achievement for our boys to compete with the squad Oxford have got because our budget won’t even be half of Oxford’s.
“Their budget will dwarf ours. It will dwarf it.”