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Saturday 2nd November 2013 ko 15.00

League 2

OXFORD UNITED 0

BRISTOL ROVERS 1 (O’Toole 71p)

Att 6,374 (862 away)

Entry S/T

Programme £3 (incl’ Oxford Mail)

I’ve got used to professional footballers’ interviews with radio stations, the media training tends to remove anything of interest. So OUFC’s Dave Kitson’s interview on Radio Oxford was a welcome breath of fresh air even if, in time the FA disrepute charge will cost him in one form or another.

He described referee Mark Brown as, “... the most arrogant man I have ever come across on the pitch in my life,” and,

“We have an incident where Alfie Potter is lying on the floor with his leg in a brace and he’s asking the referee about the challenge and the referee is swearing at him, telling him to shut up and warning him he will send him off if he doesn’t.

“The lad is lying there with tears in his eyes with his leg in a brace and he cannot even talk to the referee.

“We’d like some decisions from referees. The foul for the penalty was two yards out the box. The referee never communicated with the linesman. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. I just don’t know why I bother.”

Did he have a point, even if the likelihood of the FA doing anything other than issuing the forward a charge is negligible? I try to support the officials, their job can be impossible, but this official fell far below what a reasonable observer would expect from a referee.

There were three dreadful decisions, the first a cynical body-check from Rovers’ Tom Parkes that stopped Ryan Williams racing through that failed to even draw a foul. Judging by the way Williams gingerly got to his feet afterwards, a kick and a card was the least the challenge deserved.

It got worse when stand-in full back Jake Wright clipped Eliot Richards’ heels. There was no doubt it was a foul, but a penalty? The linesman was in perfect position to judge, so how could between them, they spot that the initial contact was 2 yards outside the box. Mr Brown must have looked at the TV replays and cringed.

Cringe he should, and cringe again at Tom Lockyer’s appalling challenge on Alfie Potter, that saw the winger carried off with his ankle in a splint. What exactly constitutes “Serious Foul Play” Mr Brown?

It made John-Joe O’Toole’s headlock on Dave Kitson during stoppage time at a corner look almost routine. But when you’ve got so much wrong, why stop there?

But here’s the important bit. As incompetent as Mark Brown was, Oxford United should have won easily. Is being on 99 goals for the club weighing heavily on James Constable? The two chances he missed, a header after half-an-hour was bad, but the other missed header, at close-range after 67 minutes seemed easier to score than squeeze over the bar. He held his head in his hands, and the crowd quietly despaired.

Perhaps it wasn’t United’s day, former Swindon keeper Steve Mildenhall saved well from  Sean Rigg and  Kitson, but there’s something wrong with United’s midfield. Andy Whing sits deep, probably slightly too deep but the issue here is Danny Rose. When he has the ball, he’s excellent but he doesn’t see anywhere near enough of the ball to be effective. Is Asa Hall a better option? Perhaps the FA Cup game at home to Gateshead will be the time to evaluate that one?