MICHAEL Appleton backed Jon Meades to learn from his mistake after the midfielder was sent off as Oxford United were knocked out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy 2-0 at Cheltenham Town last night.
And to cap a miserable night for the U’s, substitute Danny Rose limped off late on with a hamstring injury.
United fell behind when they switched off on the stroke of half-time, allowing John Marquis to head the home side in front.
The odds of the visitors getting back on level terms lengthened considerably midway through the second half, when Meades received a straight red card from referee Brendan Malone.
Appleton reviewed the footage of the tackle on Jason Taylor after the game and disputed the decision, which he felt was influenced by the way Cheltenham responded.
“Obviously the reaction of their players didn’t help, but I think some of us probably need to learn from that because I genuinely think it affected the decision,” he said.
“It was a foul, but was it a red card? I don’t think so.
“He will learn, he’s a midfield player and having watched it back again I made plenty of those tackles and got away with it in my time.
“I think because he slipped on the follow through it looked a lot worse than it was really.
“Jon will be fine, he will serve his punishment and come back stronger from it.”
Skipper Jake Wright felt the sending off did not end United’s hopes of taking something from the game.
Wright: “I still think we had chances to get back in the game.
“I was fouled for their second goal, I was being pushed in the back.
“But we’re not here to make excuses, they beat us 2-0 and we weren’t good enough on the night”
Koby Arthur made the game safe when he doubled the lead 12 minutes from time.
The defeat leaves United with just one win from seven games in all competitions, but Appleton felt there was little wrong with the visitors at Whaddon Road.
He said: “It boils down to switching off 20 seconds before half-time and when it does go down to ten men it can be a bit of a worry at times.
“Sometimes you end up chasing the game and it can punish you, but we accept what it is and move on.”
He added: “You’ve got to really dig deep from the pit of your stomach when you’re on a poor run.
“I said to the players ‘you don’t look like a side that lacks confidence’.
“I enjoy watching us play, again we’ve created loads of opportunities, especially in the first half.”
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