Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, Oxford United produced a performance that quite frankly, would have embarrassed an under 9 team.

Unable to string two passes together, they handed Rushden a 3-0 lead inside 14 minutes with an inept display of defending.

And it got no better after the break.

Never before can I remember Oxford fans leaving a game so early - inside 15 minutes.

And Jim Smith's decision to start with Chris Willmott and Phil Gilchrist as centre backs was a massive error.

Neither are not match fit and Rushden certainly took advantage.

A neat one-two in the centre of the park left Gilchrist floundering in only the third minute, and Simeon Jackson took a touch before firing past keeper Billy Turley, who should have done better.

Rocked by this blow, United conceded a free-kick 25 yards out and although the wall blocked Andy Burgess's effort, the ball ran to another U's old boy, Martin Foster.

The midfielder's shot appeared to lack the power to beat Turley, only for Matt Day's outstretched leg to divert it inside the near post beyond the despairing dive of Turley.

And then, a regulation long ball from Curtis Osano on 13 minutes caught Willmott napping, and Craig McAllister raced through.

Turley started to come, and had he continued, would certainly have made the ball first.

But he retreated, allowing McAllister an easy finish.

United were 3-0 down and a complete shambles.

The fans made their feelings known, chanting 'What a load of rubbish' and 'Smithy sort it out'.

And any hope of a comeback after a half-time rollicking from Smith went out the window when Burgess fired in a shot and Willmott stuck out a leg to divert the ball to St Aimie, who in turn diverted into his own net.

On 65 minutes, with United pushing forward, Jackson found acres of space on the left, skipped past Willmott and Foster and fired into the top corner.

It left the travelling support calling for the head of manager Jim Smith, and by the 75th-minute, they had resorted to doing the conga rather than watching the game.

It is a performance and result that will take a lot of getting over.

Smith made four changes from the side that beat Merthyr Tydfil on Saturday.

Gilchrist and Day were back from injury, Alex Jeannin returned from suspension while loan signing Kieron St Aimie was handed his debut.

Yemi Odubade, who was a doubt before the game with a hip injury, was named as a substitute.

Employing a 4-5-1 formation, Barry Quinn started at left back to try and keep Burgess at bay.

But it was soon clearly evident that the formation was not working.

Jackson, Martin Foster and McAllister made United pay for slack marking and the game was lost.

United tried to get some momentum, but when they went forward, you feared for the counter-attack.

Jordan Rhodes looked lively, and saw an attempted lob sail just wide.

And it was Rhodes, St Aimie and Bailey that really were the only United men to take credit for their first-half displays.

Oxford were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Jeannin crossed and St Aimie shot from close range. The ball clearly struck the arm of Chris Hope but only a corner was awarded.

A neat ball from Jeannin - the only plus point of his first-half display - put in Rhodes, whose shot was saved but a golden opportunity missed.

Fans were hoping that a stirring half-time talk from Smith would revive his team.

But it got no better.

St Aimie's own goal and Jackson's fine second goal merely compounded their misery.

Odubade's introduction gave Rushden problems, but still Oxford could't give their fans a goal.

Odubade was denied by a fine save from Paul Nicholls and substitute Alex Fisher went close, but if this was a boxing match, it would have been stopped 76 minutes before the final whistle.