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10:35 17th September 2001

Exeter City v Oxford United

After eleven minutes of this game you could have been left wondering whether you had come to the wrong venue. For were you really watching a football match? Or where you at the theatre watching a 'Comedy of Errors?'

But more 'entertainment' was to follow, as both sides made lamentable defensive mistakes, a total of five goals were scored, and as an added 'bonus', whilst referee Trevor Parkes obviously lot the plot, the two benches joined in, as both Noel Blake and Oxford assistant boss Ted McMinn were banished from it, following an eyeball confrontation, that involved just about everyone sat in front of the Ivor Doble Stand.

However, apart from all that, Exeter City did pick up a very welcome three points and their first win of the season to move off the bottom of the Nationwide Third Division.

The first act of the comedy came after just 63 seconds. Steve Flack chased and closed down goalkeeper Ian McCaldon after a terrible back pass. The ball was nicked away by the keeper, but only as far as Sean McCarthy whou couldn¹t believe his luck as he rolled it into an empty net from just outside the area.

City's joy, as it has so many times already this season, soon evaporated, and once again it was a result of a woeful lack of concentration.

Goalkeeper Matt Gregg, making a debut he would want to forget, certainly in the first half, decided to play the ball out, presumably not noticing Jamie Brooks, and the Oxford player, cool as you like, lobbed the Grecians number one, the ball dropping and bouncing into the net.

At this point you could sense it was going to rain goals, for both defences looked like being breached at will, such were the nerves out on the pitch.

It didn't take long either. A Geoff Breslan corner, resulted in a game of private head tennis between Alex Watson, McCarthy and Flack, before the latter's effort was adjudged to have crossed the line - 2-1 to City, and after only 15 minutes

Breslan, who was industrious throughout the 90 minutes and easily City¹s best player, then got just reward for his efforts as City had to pinch themselves when they went 3-1 in front, a minute before half-time.

Flack sent a slide rule diagonal cross along the ground through the Oxford defence. One defender miskicked, the keeper just helped the ball on, and there at the far post was Breslan to score from close range.

The managers must have had choice words at the break to their respective defenders, for it was certainly a tighter match in the second half.

Unfortunately, referee Parkes, decided he had been left out for most of the afternoon, and decided to wave yellow cards as if he was voting at a Trades Union Congress.

Oxford then reduced the arrears in the 78th minute after Barry McConnell had been adjudged to have pushed Omoyimni. Martin Thomas smashed home the spot kick.

The referee not only upset the crowd, but the players as well, and after Chris Curran had been inexplicably booked for a perfectly, hard but fair challenge, and then was the victim of a seemingly revenge one himself.

This sparked off a confrontation on the respective benches, as several struggled to restore calm. As a result, Blake left to sit in the Doble Stand, and McMinn was led around the ground to the dressing room like a naughty schoolboy by City's smallest female steward.

Not a classic in the football sense - but a valuable three points and a confidence boosting win in time for the visit of Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday evening (K.O. 7.45pm).
    Data provided by Press Association