Oxford United caved in again under pressure last night as they threw away a three-goal lead - and still haven't won on Setanta this season.

They sent their fans into dreamland by going 3-0 ahead just before half-time with a stunning two-goal burst from Yemi Odubade that had many in the ground believing chairman Nick Merry's assertion of 'Crisis, What Crisis?' But Torquay came storming back after the break, pulling one back on 58 minutes and then pulinng the game out of the fire, inevitably through former Oxford strikers Chris Zebroski, who netted 11 minutes from time, and Tim Sills in the last minute.

United's players had gone off to a standing ovation at half-time.

At the final whistle, "What A Load Of Rubbish" echoed around the ground.

It looked like being a victory to erase last weekend's Droylsden disappointment, but this Oxford team seem to have no belief in themselves - even when they are so far in front.

Thoroughly enjoying their unaccustomed role of underdogs, as much because of high-flying Torquay's fantastic start as well as their own mediocre form, United suddenly found the way to goal with a quickfire double in the 15th and 17th minutes.

The first goal came after Paul Shaw was unceremoniously tripped 25 yards out. Alex Jeannin chipped a deft free-kick into the area and Eddie Hutchinson timed his run perfectly, and stooped to head in.

Third-placed Torquay hardly had time to recover from that when centre back Chris Todd fell over when put under pressure from Shaw following a long clearance by Billy Turley, and Yemi Odubade latched onto the loose ball in a flash and struck a sweet first-time left-footed shot past stunned keeper Simon Rayner.

Two goals down, the Devon outfit had to commit players forward to try to get back, and the U's revelled in the spaces they left as they counter-attacked in style.

And Odubade delivered the coup de grace to a remarklable first half in injury time when he brushed off substitute Tony Bedeau's challenge, with more than a suggestion that there might have been a foul, and then arrowed in towards goal.

The Yemi of last Saturday looked unsure, but on this night he was buzzing. Purposeful and quick-thinking, he finished superbly with a shot that gave the shell-shocked Rayner no chance.

Smith actually missed the third goal because he was heading down to the dressing room from the directors' box.

"You're having a laugh," he probably said, when they told him they were three up!

United's inspired first-half performance owed a great deal too to solid defending and good goalkeeping by Billy Turley.

Phil Gilchrist was back for his first game of the season after summer knee surgery.

Smith made several other changes after the Droylsden debacle, switching Luke Foster to right wingback and bringing Carl Pettefer into the midfield as well as finding a place again in defence for Michael Corcoran because Barry Quinn, United's player of the month for September, had strained a hamstring.

Seventeen-year-old on-loan Ipswich Town striker Jordan Rhodes was on the bench.

United started more brightly than in many recent games, as Jeannin forced a corner in the opening minute and sent over an excellent flag kick which Foster headed over, under pressure.

Yemi Odubade also got an effort on goal moments later, again unable to get over the ball, which was delivered just a fraction too high following good play by Phil Trainer.

Torquay looked menacing when they broke swiftly and Lee Phillips was set free on the right edge of the box. Phillips cut inside, then, out, but Billy Turley kept out his low shot with a smart save.

Phillips lashed a 15-yard shot just past the angle of post and bar when a corner wasn't properly cleared and former United striker Chris Zebroski hammered a 25-yarder over as the Gulls enjoyed a spell of pressure.

But the U's then knocked the stuffing out of them with their two quick goals, and suddenly there was a spring in the step of the Oxford players.

Jeannin received treatment after taking a knock but he was soon back to deliver another dangerous left-wing cross that again caused panic in the Torquay defence.

Paul Buckle's team kept creating openings, though, and it needed a strong block by Chris Willmott to halt one attack. Turley was also kept busy, saving Lee Mansell's shot and having to deal with several corners.

Turley produced a brilliant one-handed save from Tim Sills's volley early in the second half after Corcoran tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick and was caught out.

But on 58 minutes, Torquay grabbed a lifeline through substitute Ishmael Welsh, who slid the ball home after Chris Hargreaves had gone in hard in a challenge with Turley, and left the keeper prostrate on the ground.

Zebroski headed wide, Turley punched clear and Gilchrist, Chris Willmott and Pettefer all made some vital blocks.

At the other end, when United went forward, it was with renewewd belief. Trainer, who had been excellent in the first half, looked a strong presence in the middle of the park, and Yemi was alive.

With the home team being pegged further and further back, Zebroski jinked in from the right, past Jeannin and Gilchrist and finished with a fierce shot from ten yards.

Rhodes came on for the final ten minutes or so, and he was involved in one fine move, begun by Odubade, with the Ipswich striker firing over a first-time cross from the right that Shaw almost converted.

But, knowing Oxford's inability to hold onto the lead, most people in the ground feared Torquay could get a third.

And they duly did in the 90th minute when the excellent Welsh crossed from the right and Sills headed into the rood of the net, it going in off the helpless Turley's arm. It was the old game of two halves.

But it left United fans desperately frustrated again.