Football: Macari wants release

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The Independent Online
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LOU MACARI will expect Stoke to do the decent thing and release him from his contract, which expires at the end of the season, in order that he can accept the offer to manage Celtic.

Macari was not saying that yesterday, in fact he said he would not resign, but his private wishes were not easily disguised. 'To manage Celtic is a big opportunity - bigger still for someone like myself who has played for them. But I won't be resigning and I won't be approaching the chairman about letting Celtic speak to me. It's got to be with their blessing.'

Obviously matters need to be resolved swiftly for the sake of stability. This was Stoke's fourth consecutive defeat which, coincidentally, is their worst run under Macari since he arrived three seasons ago.

Yet Stoke ought to have had this game won before half-time, Mark Stein, the First Division's leading scorer, alone missing a hat-trick of chances on his return to his former stamping ground.

Oxford won a penalty after 31 minutes, scoring a formality in such situations for Jim Magilton. Not this time, however, as his too- casual shot gave Carl Muggleton the chance to distinguish himself.

But a reprieve was at hand for the elegant Irishman and when Les Robinson crossed deep to the far post in the 40th minute Magilton was there to head a lob back into the middle. David Penney then proved that two headers are better than one, igniting Oxford's lift-off from the bottom of the table.

Oxford United (4-4-2): Whitehead; Robinson, Collins, M Ford, Rogan; Beauchamp, Lewis, Magilton, Allen (Wanlass, 86); Druce (R Ford, 71), Penney. Substitute not used: Reece (gk).

Stoke City (4-4-2): Muggleton; Clarkson, Overson, Cranson, Cowan; Orlygsson, Foley, Gynn (Carruthers, 68), Gleghorn; Stein, Sturridge. Substitutes not used: Prudhoe (gk), Bannister.

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow).