Oxford caught Chester napping

From the Rage Online newsdesk

Oxford United 4 Chester City 0

You Tube clip of the goals, for posterity

Rarely, in recent years, can Oxford supporters have left a game purring about a performance from their Yellow heroes. However, such was Oxford's dominance over a very poor Chester side that Us fans exited the United Stadium positively gushing about the game. In the first half Oxford's approach work and passing game was at least one level above Conference standards and, despite the disappointing lack of end product, United fans were looking forward eagerly to the second period.

And the team failed to disappoint as, playing their first home evening game of the season, they turned possession into points with some clinical finishing. This was a game of firsts for United: the first clean sheet of the season; James Constable's first hat-trick for the club; a first start for Rhys Day; Damien Batt's first start of the season; and the first time that Oxford have scored four in consecutive league games since Christmas 1984.

In the first half United came close to scoring through Alfie Potter and Constable, without really forcing John Danby into a save, while at the other end Ryan Clarke was virtually a spectator. Clarke was called into action at the start of the second half, in Chester's most threatening period, and Neil Ashton should have done better with a free header that went straight to the Oxford keeper. Stung by this impudence, the Us went up the other end five minutes later and took the lead. Simon Clist released Adam Murray and his cross skidded across the goal area to the waiting Constable, who made no mistake. Beano then hit the post after being set free by Murray and Potter joined in the fun by skipping past a couple of challenges and forcing Danby to push the ball wide at his near post. Chester, without a pre-season to speak of, were by now out on their feet, and it didn't take long for United to take full advantage. Constable muscled his way past a Chester defender and crossed for Matt Green to flick the ball up and then volley into the top of the net. With seven minutes left Green allowed a Murray cross to reach Constable who buried the ball with aplomb, and as the game reached its finale he completed his hat-trick with another dead-eye finish.

While this was a glorious win, achieved in fine style, it must be remembered that Chester were one of the worst sides seen at the ground in the past few seasons, and there won't be many other sides that capitulate quite so easily. Stevenage on Saturday will be a different proposition entirely but, in Chris Wilder, United seem to have a manager who knows exactly what is required to get a result against each opponent.

Wilder made four changes to the side that won 4-3 at Histon. Adam Chapman, who came off at half-time at the Glassworld, was replaced at right-back by Batt, while fellow defender Luke Foster made way for Day. Chris Carruthers, who made his only appearance of the season at Histon, was left out as Murray resumed his place in the midfield, while Jack Midson had a fitness test in the afternoon and was rested, with Potter coming back into the team. The first change, made with 12 minutes remaining, saw Chapman come on for Batt, who left the field to prolonged applause. Then, in injury time, a double change saw Potter replaced by Marcus Kelly and Al Rhodes came on for Constable, who rightly received a standing ovation.

The man with the middle was Brendan Malone, who officiated United's FA Cup win at Dorchester last season. He took a very lenient view of proceedings, and allowed a lot of challenges that other referees might have deemed worthy of punishment. He very nicely didn't book any Oxford players. The attendance was 5,135 of whom 5,004 were of the Yellow persuasion.

The win took Oxford to the top of the Conference for the first time since New Year's Day 2007, when United were overtaken by Dagenham & Redbridge in the Us' first season at this level. Chester, unsurprisingly considering their 25 points deduction and two heavy defeats, remain bottom. United have a goal difference of six, which is one better than second-placed Altrincham, who beat Histon 2-1. Luton are third, level on goal difference with Alty, after they beat second-bottom Forest Green Rovers 1-0. Mansfield Town are fourth following their 4-1 win over Barrow, Rob Duffy giving the Stags a half-time lead. Jamie Cook was on target for Crawley for the second successive game, as they won 1-0 at Cambridge United.

Stevenage, whose massed ranks will visit United on Saturday, are eighth after they earned their first win of the season with a 3-0 rout of fifth-bottom Ebbsfleet United. AFC Wimbledon occupy the highest place in their short history as their 4-0 win over Salisbury City lifted them to sixth. Kettering Town won 1-0 at Kidderminster Harriers to go seventh, while Wrexham beat York City by the same score. Craig Farrell was on target for Rushden & Diamonds in their 2-1 win over fourth-bottom Hayes & Yeading. In the battle of the two promoted sides from the Conference North, Tamworth drew 1-1 at third-bottom Gateshead. The other game saw Grays Athletic win their first game of the season, beating Eastbourne Borough 1-0. Intriguingly (perhaps), the official attendances at both Gateshead and Grays were 429. [@news]2543[/@news] [@opponent]chester city[/@opponent]