Oxford United 5, Grays Athletic 0 Pre-match predictions that struggling Grays would find life tough at early pacesetters Oxford proved true.

But visiting boss Julian Dicks felt that the controversial second Oxford goal had been a turning point in his side’s demise.

Grays had already, after a bright start, fallen behind on nine minutes through James Constable’s close range header from Danny Bulman’s free-kick. But on 24 minutes visiting keeper Preston Edwards mistimed a jump and collided with Matt Green allowing Constable to walk the ball home.

Said Dicks: “You could see it was a foul, but the referee bowed to pressure and it affected my team.”

Grays were virtually out of it after 43 minutes when Constable set-up Jamie Cook for Oxford’s third. Grays came more into the game from an attacking point of view when Jamie Slabber came off the bench in the second-half.

Jack Midson, arriving from the Oxford bench, shot home the home outfit’s fourth after 73 minutes.

The final blow for the visitors came in the final minute of normal time when Edwards, booked earlier for protesting over the second goal, up-ended Midson in the box and was sent off.

Midson fired the spot-kick past Anwar Uddin, who took over between the sticks, to increase Oxford’s lead at the top to nine points. Grays face the long trip to Wrexham on Saturday and, although still one place outside the relegation spots, are looking like facing a difficult winter.

Dicks will look to bring fresh faces to the New Rec scene and said: “We were playing good football but not getting the breaks. Some players came up short.”

Grays have drawn Luton away in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round and the match will be played on Saturday 24 October at 3pm. The 1890 Travel Club have arranged coach travel to the match with coach seats priced at £15 (£8 for under-16s if accompanied by an adult).

The coach will leave the clubhouse at 12-30pm. Ring Martin on 07948391735 to book a seat.