Thedecision to give the Division 2 groundsman of the year award to Bristol City astonished the Oxford United camp after they saw the state of the Ashton Gate pitch on Monday.

The surface was one of the poorer ones they have played on in recent weeks. Maybe it was because fertilizer had just been put down, but the top looked like a patchwork quilt, and each goalmouth was in a poor condition.

It must have made United groundsman Mick Moore, who was short-listed but pipped for the award, scractch his head.

"I was surprised, because the Bristol City pitch has never been good, and I was even more surprised once I'd seen it," admitted Denis Smith.