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Archived News from April 2006

3rd April 2006 14:55

TV evidence is inconclusive, so I am not bothering with still shots, which we did do for the Cobblers game - Martin.

However, a new view of the goal incident from oufc.co.uk:

Meanwhile for 3 images by Dan Westwell, visit Match Centre/Stags in Action

Was it over the line?
Oxford Mail, by Jon Murray on 03 April 2006

JIM Smith says he doesn't know whether Mansfield's controversial late winner from Danny Reet should have been allowed.

Speaking after Saturday's 1-0 defeat, Oxford's boss said: "I don't really know whether the ball went over the line. The keeper said it didn't, but he would, to be fair.

"I was disappointed, because without playing particularly well, we missed three or four, maybe five, really good chances.

"Their keeper made one very good save, a reflex save. The header should have been away from the keeper.

"I'm disappointed on two counts – with the way we played, which wasn't good enough, and even then we should have won the game. We should have been 2-0 up inside ten minutes."

Television replays since have cast even further doubt over whether the ball crossed the line.

United's preparations were badly hit by a flu bug, which ruled out Matt Robinson and Andy Burgess, then Jon Ashton in the hotel before the match, and then Leo Roget during the warm-up.

It meant a reshuffling of the side, and United ended up with only four on the bench.

"Ashton would have been on the bench," said Smith. "But to be fair to John Dempster, he came in and played really well. That was a rare plus for us.

"It wasn't the best preparations, they were falling down like nine pins.

"It still shouldn't have affected the game, we still had four or five really good chances and opportunities to win it."

United did not keep possession at all well, one of the most disappointing aspects for the new manager.

"I told them 'we're not supposed to be playing one-touch today – that's for the training ground!

"The forwards were disappointing – Steve Basham, Liam Horsted and T'Cham N'Toya, who must have given every ball away in the first half.

"Having said that, he could have had three goals. None of the front line could say he had done something."

Crowd trouble mars United game
Oxford Mail, by Jon Murray on 02 April 2006

CROWD trouble marred Oxford United's game at Mansfield on Saturday, causing a five minute stoppage in play late in the second half.

The depressing spectacle of football hooliganism returned, and it appeared as though Oxford fans were mostly to blame.

Two ran onto the edge of the pitch before being rugby-tackled by stewards who apprehended them until police arrived.

There were several other instances of United fans jostling stewards aggressively.

However, there were claims later that the trouble began after a bottle was hurled into the Field Mill Ground's North Stand, which was housing more than 700 Oxford supporters.

Police are studying CCTV pictures and photographic evidence before deciding whether to make further arrests.

But the Football League seem certain to investigate, with the incidents inevitably included in the referee's match report.

Clashes started soon after Mansfield scored from a controversial 84th-minute goal, which proved to be the winner.

Danny Reet's header at the far post was clawed out of the goal by U's goalkeeper Andrea Guatelli, but the linesman flagged that the ball had crossed the line.

The 1-0 defeat was Oxford's first for five games, and first under new boss Jim Smith.

United's preparations had been badly hit by a flu bug which ruled out Andy Burgess, Matt Robinson and, late in the day, Jon Ashton.

Then Leo Roget felt unwell during the warm-up and had to be replaced by John Dempster, leaving Oxford with just four on the bench.
Police probe crowd trouble
Oxford Mail, 03 April 2006

A HANDFUL of Oxford United fans brought shame on their club in ugly scenes involving match stewards.

Police are now studying video evidence after crowd trouble marred Jim Smith's first away game as the U's manager at Mansfield on Saturday.

Oxford fans caused a five-minute hold-up to play near the end of the club's 1-0 defeat at the Field Mill Ground.

At least two U's supporters ran onto the perimeter of the pitch towards Mansfield supporters who had been goading them, and were rugby-tackled by stewards.

Several dozen other Oxford fans were then involved in confrontations with stewards.

Some visiting fans claimed that the trouble started when a bottle was thrown into the away end, injuring one person.

And others were unhappy that Mansfield stewards were treating them as hooligans, but doing nothing about home fans who were behaving exactly the same.

Nevertheless, they were shameful scenes, which brought condemnation from both Jim Smith and new Oxford United chairman Nick Merry.

Mr Smith said: "We can't defend that. Apparently somebody threw a bottle into our boys and it smashed on the floor, or whatever.

"We want them to support us and we want to have tremendous support away from home, but we don't want to be associated with fans jumping over the fence and fighting with stewards and so forth. We've got to be bigger than that.

"I understand the frustrations but we have all got to be bigger than that."

Mr Merry wanted to learn the full facts before making a statement, but said: "Obviously, I'm not very happy about it, at all."

The Mansfield Town ground controller said he would not comment until officers had been able to view all the CCTV evidence of the trouble.

Police have also asked photographers at the match to send them any pictures they took of the disturbances

The trouble began moments after Mansfield were controversially awarded an 84th-minute goal, which ultimately decided the game.

United goalkeeper Andrea Guatelli tried to claw out Danny Reet's header at the far post.

The Italian was inside his goal as he made the save, but insisted he had kept the ball out.

Yet assistant referee James Cox flagged that it had crossed the line.

The linesman was under intense pressure from home fans after earlier disallowing a goal, which was a very tight decision, and then making a bad blunder in a subsequent offside decision.

Mansfield manager Peter Shirtliff said: "I don't know if it was a goal, but I thought the one we had disallowed was a goal.

"It did look as if the keeper dived back into his net to pull it out, but it is difficult to see from my angle.

"I was very disappointed with what happened after the goal, fans running onto the pitch and having to be rugby-tackled by stewards.

"I haven't seen that for a long time and it's not very pleasant."

No one from Nottinghamshire Police was available for comment yesterday.

Thames Valley Police spokesman James Clements told the Oxford Mail: "The force's football liaison officers will be linking up with officers in Mansfield."

Mansfield Incidents: Club statement

The police are currently investigating the incidents that occurred towards the end of Saturday's game at Mansfield.

CCTV footage, eye witness accounts and still photographs are being used, and the club will take the strongest possible action against fans found guilty of entering on to the field of play. This is a criminal offence and can lead to a three year ban from both domestic and international matches. The club can also issue bans at their discretion Mansfield will also take action against their fans for the same offence.

Chairman Nick Merry told us:

"While we need as much support as possible we do not need the sort of incident that we saw on Saturday. Fans need to back the team but also take responsibility for their own actions. There were a number of families and children who were very scared by what was going on around them, and that is totally unacceptable. Anyone found guilty will be banned, and has no right to call themselves a supporter of Oxford United.

"Because of the excellent general behaviour of our fans we rarely have a police presence at home matches but incidents like this jeopardise that situation and could cost us a considerable amount.

"The message is simple. Get behind the team but do it the right way."

The club are also keen to contact the family of the child struck by a bottle thrown from outside the ground. Please contact Mary Page on 01865 337500


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