OXFORD United finally got their season up and running with a first league victory in an eventful clash with Burton Albion.

James Henry and Ricky Holmes came up with carbon copy strikes in the second half to relieve the pressure after four success defeats in Sky Bet League One.

It moved them off the foot of the table and was well-deserved, but it only came after United had to clear their heads during the half-time interval.

The hosts, who were ahead when John Mousinho claimed a faint flick on Marcus Browne’s free-kick, were furious Marvin Sordell’s equaliser was allowed to stand.

United could not believe a foul on Curtis Nelson had not been given in the build-up and boss Karl Robinson had to race on at the end of the first half to prevent his players, led by Nelson, from confronting referee Trevor Kettle.

Fortunately for the officials it was not the defining moment, as Henry and Holmes, the latter with his first touch after coming on, made sure of the points.

And Burton’s misery was completed four minutes from time, when substitute Jamie Allen was sent off for two bookable offences.

Sam Smith replaced Jon Obika in the only change to the starting line-up from Tuesday night’s defeat to Accrington Stanley, while Holmes made a welcome return on the bench.

While United had zero points, Burton came into the game with only one win themselves and the early stages were fairly uneventful.

The first chance came from an innocuous ball forward from Cameron Norman, but Smith chased it down and got to it just before goalkeeper Stephen Bywater. The acute angle meant he passed instead of shot, and Gavin Whyte’s resulting effort was blocked.

Browne picked up where he left off in midweek and another excellent run led to him being brought down for a free-kick out wide on 18 minutes.

The West Ham United loanee took the set piece himself, curling it into the danger area where Mousinho leapt and the ball went into the net through Bywater’s legs. The centre back raced away to claim the goal with the faintest of touches, although Browne could have a case for saying it should have been credited to him.

The key fact was United were in front, but they quickly went on to the back foot as Burton hit back.

For the only time in the first half the U’s fans cheered a decision from referee Trevor Kettle, as David Templeton was booked for diving in the penalty area.

But the visitors went on to enjoy a good spell, pinning their opponents back, without testing Jonathan Mitchell.

The U’s goalkeeper was having trouble with his kicking, clearing out of play four times before the break.

Another clearance on 32 minutes was half charged down, but from the nervy start United counter-attacked. Mousinho’s ball forward was flicked on by Smith for James Henry, who got in round the back and squared for Browne to have a shot brilliantly blocked by Kyle McFadzean.

A minute later Burton were sliced open again. Henry’s through ball saw the rapid Whyte round Bywater, but a defender got back to clear for a corner.

They were two excellent chances to open up a 2-0 lead, but having survived, Burton responded.

They were level six minutes before the break, when a corner was not cleared and Sordell bundled in from close range. United were fuming though, with what looked a foul on Curtis Nelson in the build-up unpunished.

The home side had already been unhappy with Kettle before the goal and they continued to rage at every decision up to half-time.

When the whistle went Robinson sprinted on to the pitch and pushed several of his players away from confronting Kettle, who was booed off by the home fans.

They were cheering five minutes after the restart, though, when United went ahead again.

A flowing move was started and finished by Henry, who was on hand to convert the rebound when Smith’s curling shot from the edge of the box was parried by Bywater.

United had led 2-1 early in the second half against Accrington four days earlier and let it slip, but they looked more stable here.

Burton never carried the same threat after the break and instead had to dig in to stay in the game.

They almost fell 3-1 down in the 55th minute when a Browne free-kick hit a Burton defender, but Bywater’s reflexes prevent the own goal.

United were desperate for a two-goal cushion – and it arrived midway through the second half.

Holmes had only been on the pitch for two minutes and with his first touch the winger buried Henry’s pass from ten yards.

There was still a quarter of the game remaining, but the Brewers were unable to set up a tense finish.

Instead, they lost their discipline in the closing stages and Allen was sent off late on for two late lunges on Norman.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): Mitchell, Norman, Nelson, Mousinho, Ruffels, Brannagan, Hanson, Whyte, Henry, Browne (Holmes 67), Smith (Mackie 65).

Unused subs: Shearer, Garbutt, Dickie, McMahon, Obika.

Booked: Smith, Norman, Nelson.

Burton Alb (4-3-3): Bywater, Brayford, McFadzean, Buxton, Turner, Akins, Fox (Allen 66), Fraser, Sordell (Hodge 83), Boyce, Templeton (Quinn 57).

Unused subs: Campbell, Harness, Miller, Hutchinson.

Booked: Templeton, Allen, Brayford, Fraser.

Sent off: Allen.

Referee: Trevor Kettle.

Attendance: 6,026 (382 visitors).