Having gone 3-0 ahead, City then made life difficult for themselves by allowing Paul Williams and Andy Rammell to pull goals back in the last 17 minutes.
Stoke's hopes of a place in the top three disappeared when Oxford found their goal touch after nearly 10 blank hours to beat them 4-1 at the Manor Ground.
Martin Gray ended the famine with his first goal for the club after five minutes. The recalled Mark Angel extended the lead with a firm shot in the 27th minute. Stoke pulled one back in the 59th minute when Mike Sheron scored cleverly after a Mark Devlin free-kick, but Nigel Jemson added Oxford's third from 25 yards and Martin Aldridge completed the rout.
Tranmere are fifth after they too hit four, beating Charlton 4-0 at home. They, too, got their fourth from an Aldridge, John.
n Internazionale, bidding to win the Uefa Cup for the third time in seven seasons, had their England midfielder, Paul Ince, sent off and needed a penalty shoot-out to squeeze past Casino Graz to reach the third round after a 1-0 defeat in Austria left the aggregate level at 1-1.Reuse content