Oxford United 3-0 Exeter City
OXFORD UNITED: Slocombe, Baldock, Skarz, Roofe, Wright (capt), Sercombe, MacDonald, Lundstram, Taylor (O'Dowda 79'), Maguire (Hoban 79'), Dunkley (Mullins 46').
SUBS: Buchel, Hylton, Ruffels, Evans.
GOALS: Lundstram 48', Baldock 67', Sercombe 89'
EXETER CITY: Olejnik, Woodman, Oakley (Morrison 78'), Davies, Nicholls, Moore-Taylor (capt), Reid (Wheeler 70'), Nichols, Tillson, Watkins, Grant (Holmes 59').
SUBS: Butterfield, McAllister, Oyeleke, Hamon.
Referee: Graham Salisbury
GOALS FROM John Lundstram, George Baldock and Liam Sercombe handed Oxford United a Boxing Day win over Exeter City.
There was just the one change to the City line-up that suffered last-gasp defeat at home against Luton Town last time out, and that saw Ollie Watkins come in for Lee Holmes out wide. Liam Sercombe, the former St James Park favourite, started for the hosts after having got ten goals for the U's already this season since switching Exeter for Oxford in the summer.
The match was just moments old when Jamie Reid pounced on a loose ball, taking a touch before his deflected effort needed to be tipped over the bar by home team goalkeeper Sam Slocombe. Chris Maguire cut inside and curled wide at the far post at the other end in a lively first five minutes. With Oxford taking control of possession, Sercombe sought to trick the City wall by laying off for Alex MacDonald to bring a good save from Olejnik just shy of twenty minutes in, while Matt Oakley was in the right place to block Kemar Roofe's shot minutes later.
Roofe almost handed his side the lead when he flicked inches wide from a ball that had been cannoned into the City penalty area, but Ollie Watkins will have thought he should have done better after Tom Nichols squared for him after Joel Grant's through-ball. The half ended in a moment of controversy - after the already-booked Chey Dunkley took out Ollie Watkins, a melee broke out. Alex Nicholls and Alex MacDonald wrestled and both got booked, as did Jordan Tillson and George Baldock. But the referee allowed Dunkley off the hook.
HALF-TIME: OXFORD UNITED 0-0 EXETER CITY
As happens so often in football, the side that benefitted from the contentious refereeing call took the lead just a few minutes into the second half. The ball was kept in on the line as it looked to be going out for a corner, before John Lundstram was teed up to curl in the opener.
Lee Holmes replaced Joel Grant on the hour but that did little to quell the Oxford pressure, and the home side got a second less than ten minutes later, as George Baldock fired through the crowd. Holmes was booked for an off-the-ball shoulder barge on Baldock, before missing an attempted bicycle kick.
Jordan Moore-Taylor cleared a Callum O'Dowda effort off the line in the final ten minutes, but Sercombe converted at the end of a late Oxford break, leaving the scoreline looking convincing.
FULL-TIME: OXFORD UNITED 3-0 EXETER CITY
Attendance: 9,683 (547 away)
Man of the Match: Tom Nichols