OXFORD United delivered a vastly improved performance, but were left to reflect on a controversial penalty decision which went against them in defeat at Morecambe.

The result left Michael Appleton's side without a point after three games in Sky Bet League Two.

Kevin Ellison's 40th-minute header won the contest, but United could feel hard done by to come away with nothing.

The pivotal incident came 15 minutes from time, when Danny Hylton thought he had won a penalty as he tumbled going past Barry Roche.

Had it been given the goalkeeper would also have been dismissed, but instead Hylton was booked for diving.

It was harsh on the visitors, who more than deserved something from a game they had controlled in patches, particularly in the first half.

Hylton, scorer as a substitute in the previous two games, was rewarded with a start in one of three changes from Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Mansfield Town.

Danny Rose and Josh Ruffels were also promoted, as David Hunt, Jon Meades and Alfie Potter dropped to the bench.

Morecambe came into the game top of the fledgling table on goal difference after two successive victories.

They were the first to threaten, when a sweet 20-yard strike from Alex Kenyon was parried smartly by goalkeeper George Long.

United had never got going at Field Mill, but from the outset looked far more comfortable.

Given more time on the ball than at the weekend, they retained possession and used it well.

It was demonstrated by the home fans, who became increasingly irritated by the way United dictated the game.

Midway through the half the visitors had an excellent spell, as efforts on goal came thick and fast.

Their best chance arrived on 23 minutes, when Michael Collins picked out Joe Riley, whose first-time cross from the right flank found Hylton.

The striker's diving header was turned over by Roche and from the resulting corner Hylton was denied again, when his header was cleared off the line.

Danny Rose and Carlton Morris also fired shooting chances off target in a ten-minute period which ran Morecambe ragged.

As good as United were, they had nothing to show for it and were instead hit by a sucker punch on the break five minutes before half-time.

The back four, caught out for the only time in the half, could not prevent Jack Redshaw getting a shot away.

Long parried, but only for Ellison to head into the net.

United appealed half-heatedly for offside, but almost pulled level with their next attack, when Riley's fierce long range shot troubled Roche.

A hectic finish to the half almost saw Morecambe go 2-0 ahead, as Redshaw grazed the crossbar from ten yards.

The same piece of woodwork was rattled nine minutes after the restart, this time from a Danny Rose free-kick.

Tom Newey blasted one shot wide and set up Hylton to head over in a bright start to the half.

At the other end Long had a couple of nervous moments just before the hour mark.

He had difficulty turning Jamie Devitt's rising shot wide and was relieved to see Alan Goodall steer the following corner wide after the goalkeeper missed his punch.

Alex Jakubiak was brought on to give United an added dimension as time wore on.

United kept plugging away and the key moment arrived on 75 minutes.

A poor back header enabled Hylton to intercept and he appeared to be brought down in the area by Roche.

It looked a certain penalty - and a red card for Morecambe's No 1 - but bafflingly the referee booked Hylton for diving.

Tony Harrington waved away more protests for a spot kick a couple of minutes later for a Morecambe handball.

The game finished with seven minutes of stoppage time after a delay following a Hylton shot which damaged the net.

But United could not use it to their advantage, as Morecambe held on to take the points.

Morecambe (4-3-3): Roche, Beeley, Parrish, Hughes, Wilson, Fleming, Kenyon (Mullins 68), Goodall, Devitt (Wright 83), Redshaw (Sampson 67), Ellison.

Unused subs: Arestidou, Williams, Doyle, Amond.

Booked: Goodall.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): G Long, Riley, Mullins, Wright, Newey, Collins, Ruffels, Hylton, Rose, Brown, Morris.

Subs used: Jakubiak (Morris 70), Potter (Brown 82), O'Dowda (Rose 82).

Unused subs: Crocombe, Meades, Raynes, Hunt.

Booked: Hylton.

Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland).

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Attendance: 1,615 (176 visitors).