Blue Square North new boys Oxford City won the first northern A40 derby, beating Gloucester City by a single goal in a scrappy game at Whaddon Road.
New Gloucester skipper Matt Coupe had the worst possible home debut as captain, seeing red with 20 minutes left to play. He’d have heard the roar from the visiting supporters from the changing rooms as Jack Mills converted the free kick Coupe had given away moments before.
The Tigers had enjoyed a strong first half, with Lewis Hogg and Tom Webb once again a force to be reckoned with in the centre of midfield. Darren Edwards tested Warren Carter with an early shot on nine minutes, played in by a neat ball from Darren Mullings.
Steve Basham’s early salvo at the other end was offside, but young Conor Thompson had already moved to block the shot.
Gloucester won a handful of corners before the half hour mark but were sorely missing the towering presence of Tom Hamblin to nodd the ball down, Will Morford coming the closest to converting one of Hogg’s balls in.
On 30 minutes Declan Benjamin raced through the Gloucester defence and rifled a shot away, only to see it bounce back out off the post. Mullings almost repeated Benhamin’s move moments later at the other end, heading the ball into the cross bar.
Thompson made two more saves from Benjamin before the break as Oxford pressed Gloucester hard.
In the second half the tempo increased and tempers began to flare, the catalyst was the introduction of Kynan Issac on 62 minutes, in place of the impressive Benjamin.
The Tigers were still looking for a goal, with Darren Edwards seeing a shot saved on 51 minutes and Tom Webb firing just over the bar minutes later. Webb had another chance on 68 minutes, running through one on one with Carter, but the Oxford keeper rushed out to him, forcing him to lose composure and shoot into the stand.
At the other end Steve Basham had a goal ruled offside.
Coupe picked up a first yellow for an apparent challenge on Issac, which Coupe didn’t appear to have any part in. His second yellow was more clear cut, as last man he stuck a leg out and blocked his man, another yellow, then a red and he was off.
To add insult to the sullen Tigers Jack Mills converted the resulting free kick with a low shot through the wall and into the bottom corner.
With 20 minutes left on the clock City tried to fight back, with Morford and Edwards having shots saved. But despite the introduction of pace in the form of Steve Davies they were left wanting, with the loud rebukes of boss Dave Mehew, sat in the stands as part of a touchline ban, ringing around Whaddon Road.
Gloucester City: C Thompson, M Green, J Harris (S Rawling 83), M Coupe RC, J Tillson, T Webb, L Hogg, D Mullings, D Edwards (M Liddiard 78), W Morford, B Hunt (S Davies). Subs not used: T Hamblin, M Green GK
Oxford City: W Carter, A Ballard, A Learoyd, L Malone, C Wilmott, J Mills, N Shriff (A Skendi 78), D Benjamin (K Issac 62), S Basham (A Gunn 89), J Cook, P Stonehouse. Subs not used: M Martin
Ref: Steven Plane
Star man: Lewis Hogg