Eight man Oxford United were taught a footballing lesson by the league leaders Chesterfield. Ollie Banks and Gary Roberts scored early on in the proceedings, with Roberts adding a third at the death. Tom Newey and Michael Raynes were dismissed for Oxford late on.
The home side dominated the early stages of the match, playing football that was easy on the eye. A well worked passage of play was finished tidily by Banks. You would have thought that this would have been a wake up for the Yellow’s defence, but exactly the opposite happened. Blatant pushing in the back from United striker Dean Smalley was deemed by referee Paul Tierney as a foul and a penalty was subsequently awarded to the home side. Top scorer Roberts made no mistake as he calmly slotted home down the middle.
Changes were called for by the travelling 535 Oxford fans, but none were made. The majority of the frustrations of the U’s fans were aimed at Dean Smalley, who was constantly outmuscled by the ever reliable Liam Cooper. Chesterfield were overrunning the Yellows in every area, goalscorer Roberts narrowly hitting his 25 yard free kick over the bar. Half time came at a good time for the struggling Oxford.
After the break, the visitors were much more positive; Ryan Williams and Johnny Mullins became increasingly more involved in a lively game. It was the former who had a wonderful opportunity to get his side back into the game, but failed to do so. His brilliant run between the central defenders put him through on goal, but goalkeeper Tommy Lee came out smartly to save. Caretaker manager Mickey Lewis sent on James Constable, David Connolly and Sean Rigg in an attempt to save the game.
With tempers boiling, Newey inexplicably scythed down Banks from behind. The referee had no choice but to give him his marching orders, much to the dismay of the travelling fans. Minutes later, Raynes joined his teammate in the changing rooms as the referee deemed the 26 year old’s challenge to be worthy of a second yellow card. From then onwards, the contest was over. Constable was forced to take up the unusual position of centre-half, as result of a serious injury to Mullins, who was taken to hospital.
The eight men were helpless when Roberts got in behind to coolly chip over ‘keeper Ryan Clarke for his second and Chesterfield’s third of the day. Soon after, the final whistle was blown and anger was aimed at Mickey Lewis, with chants of ‘we want a manager’ from the frustrated Oxford fans. Ryan Williams was clearly irritated, verbally abusing sections of the away following.
Chesterfield remain top, with Oxford nervously looking behind over their shoulders, just four points ahead of 8th place York City.
Man of the match
Gary Roberts. Constant menace with his persistent hassling of the Oxford defence.