The only ones to get their decision-making right on Saturday were the hundreds of Oxford United supporters who normally follow the team away and who decided to give this dreadful first-round tie a miss.

One doesn't generally advocate Christmas shopping in preference to watching football, but this battle of the bog was a mess.

On a pitch that was muddy to the point of being like a gluepot, United got stuck in some of their bad old ways, and were fortunate to earn a replay.

Their Conference South opponents were celebrating holding the tournament favourites at the final whistle, but in truth very few players emerged with any credit.

I cannot remember the last time I witnessed so many players passing straight to opponents, so many errors, and such bad decision-making over the course of 90 minutes.

The poor quality of the pitch should not take all the blame.

The U's only really began to pass the ball properly when Rufus Brevett got into his stride, and Carl Pettefer came off the bench to get involved in the last 16 minutes.

Before then, Lewes had given the Conference leaders plenty of shocks.

Indeed, despite Oxford having most of the possession - and on the few occasions when they didn't give it straight back to Lewes - the Sussex side carved out the two best opportunities of the first half.

On 34 minutes, French striker Jean-Michel Sigere escaped any marking to glance a header wide from Andy Drury's cross, after Eddie Anaclet had slipped.

Six minutes later, after Phil Gilchrist had stood off, inviting a shot, Gary Holloway toe-poked the ball past Billy Turley from the edge of the area, and saw it come back off the far post.

Jim Smith had rested Pettefer, Andy Burgess and Steve Basham, and went with a 4-4-2 formation for a change, no doubt hoping it would make United a more effective attacking unit than they have been of late.

Well that part was true. But at the back they were often all over the place.

The Dripping Pan must be one of the strangest football grounds in the country.

Behind one goal was a house, and next to it the Lewes fans stood beneath an odd-looking cover. Then along one side of the ground stood dozens more, all in a line behind barriers at the top of fenced-off grass banking.

Officials had clearly over-estimated the away support, because the temporary stand erected to house the extra Oxford fans was completely empty.

Wearing all yellow - and changing from the all-white strip they wore at Rushden - United seemed to be getting a grip, with Yemi Odubade having two opportunities in quick succession.

He saw a first-time shot stopped, from Rob Duffy's knockdown, and another effort saved after a one-two with Eddie Hutchinson.

Anaclet was then within a foot of turning in Hutchinson's pass, following a well-worked move.

Yet after those attempts came to nothing, the confidence seemed to seep out of the Oxford players, and with it some of their energy.

Duffy, a disappointment overall, did go close with a right-footed shot soon after the break after Anaclet had skinned his marker.

Exactly what Billy Turley was doing on 57 minutes only he will know.

The keeper caught the ball in his area, ran forward ready to distribute it, and then rolled it three yards forward, not to Barry Quinn who was six yards further away, but straight to Lewes midfielder Simon Wormull.

Wormull was so astonished that, with the goal gaping, he struck his side-footed shot into the side- netting.

Turley then berated Quinn - which seemed a bit rich!

The second half degenerated into an appallingly untidy and error-strewn spectacle, but after their three subs were thrown on, Oxford at least had a bit more quality to drag the football out of the mire.

And right at the end, the U's were much the stronger team.

Duffy planted a diving header wide from Burgess's cross, a Burgess shot almost slipped through the grasp of keeper David Blackmore, and Basham had a volley blocked from Duffy's knockdown.

The last good chance came in the final seconds when Duffy headed the ball back for Hutchinson, yet his side-footed shot was saved.