HARTLEPOOL United’s hopes of making it three games unbeaten were ended by high-flying Oxford United.
Pools trailed early on to Ryan Williams and Oxford were the superior side in the first half.
But Luke James levelled in the 48th minute and they had the wind in their sails.
Dean Smalley regained the lead for the U’s on 66 minutes but Pools remained in the hunt.
However, that changed in stoppage time.
Scott Flinders brought down sub Scott Davies and Asa Hall sent Flinders the wrong way from ther spot.
Worse was to follow as referee Jeremy Simpson red-carded Pools sub Steve Howard for a foul on Davies.
Pools could not have made a worse start to today’s League Two clash with high-flying Oxford United.
Any notion that Oxford might have had their confidence damaged by their first defeat of the season seven days earlier proved unfounded.
Oxford were out of the blocks quickly and were in front inside four and a half minutes.
Full-back David Hunt’s throw from the right did not look that dangerous but no Pools defender took any decisive action.
That allowed on-loan midfielder RYAN WILLIAMS all the time in the world to slide a left-foot shot beyound Scott Flinders and into the keeper’s right corner.
Pools did not seem put off and almost equalised in the eighth minute.
Michael Duckworth made a great run from the right into the away box before Luke James laid the ball off to Simon Walton.
The midfielder fired at goal from 20 yards with his shot deflected just wide of Ryan Clarke’s goal.
Oxford looked a level above Pools and were better in every area of the Vic.
But Pools had the occasional glimmer of hope. Only occasional.
Andy Monkhouse released James on 17 minutes and the teenage striker moved the ball on to Jonathan Franks only for the midfielder to fail to get the cross into the box.
Oxford continued to look the better side and it needed a good tackle from Jack Baldwin to disposses Alfie Potter on 29 minutes.
There were boos from home fans after some moments of promise ended when Franks hit a pass to Compton over the winger’s head for an Oxford throw.
It would prove one of Frank’s last touches.
Colin Cooper brought him off on 38 minutes, James Poole coming on.
Oxford threatened again a minute later when Potter come in from the right but his shot was easily collected by Flinders.
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If Pools had made a poor start to the first half, they put things right as the second got under way.
And they were level in the 48th minute thanks to leading scorer JAMES.
Poole caused confusion in the U’s defence and James reacted quickly to beat Clarke from 12 yards.
It put a spring in the Pools step and they were soon back on ther attack, Poole winning a free-kick on ther right edge of the area.
But Compton could only hit the wall with the set-piece and Dolan’s follow up went into the Town End.
Pools were now playing well and Monkhouse, Poole and James were causing problems.
But the set piece delivery was less impressive, a Compton corner again failing to clear the defence.
Pools were a team transformed and were looking full of beans, especially Poole who won a corner from the dozing keeper Clarke.
Again though, the corner came to nought.
After all the good work by Pools, Oxford regained the lead against the run of play.
Potter did well down the left and broke into the box and pulled a great ball back to DEAN SMALLEY, who finished superbly from 17 yards.
Pools hit straight back and Johnny Mullins hacked down the dangerous Poole but again Pools could not take advantage.
And Pools were almost level on 78 minutes. Duckworth released Compton down the left and his cross found James, whose snapshot was saved by the legs of Clarke.
Cooper made his second sub on 84 minutes, replacing Neil Austin with Steve Howard.
There was a dramatic conclusion in injury time with a penalty, red card and non-penalty.
First, Flinders brought down Davies and Mr Simpson pointed to the spot. ASA HALL sent Flinders the wrong way to score in front of the away fans in the Rink End.
Seconds later, Mr Simpson was busy again, sending off Howard for a foul on Davies.
And there was another card shortly afterwards.
Compton appeared to be clipped in the area, but the ref gave no foul and booked Compton.
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