MARK Sykes admitted Oxford United lost their way as they suffered another disappointment on the road.

The U’s fell to a 1-0 defeat at Cheltenham Town, with Alfie May scoring from the newly-promoted side’s only shot on target.

It means United have still picked up just a single point on the road in Sky Bet League One this season, while they have lost their last five away games in all competitions.

The visitors had the better of the first half – without creating many clear openings – but barely threatened after May’s 68th-minute strike.

The verdict: Familiar story for Oxford United as away-day pain continues

Sykes felt the U’s drifted away from their principles as they became more desperate to force an equaliser.

The midfielder said: “In the first half I thought we blew them away, without actually scoring.

“In the second half we went completely the opposite way.

“That’s down to us on the pitch not doing the right thing.

“If we stick to our guns and keep playing the right football the chances would have come and we could have scored, but that’s on us.

“We need to find the right way to do things.

“We did it in the first half and in the second it went away from us.”

United were backed by 1,452 away supporters, but few chances fell at that end of the Jonny-Rocks Stadium during the second half.

Ratings: What we thought of every Oxford United player

Sykes said: “You also want to try to keep the fans on your side.

“We were playing it backwards a couple of times, but we don’t go backwards to be negative – we go backwards to open up a different area of the pitch.

“That led to people making the wrong decisions.

“Ultimately that’s cost us, because that’s not our game.”

The 24-year-old impressed again on an individual level, keeping the ball well and making intelligent runs into the Cheltenham penalty area.

Sykes was unlucky to see an improvised first-half flick go straight at goalkeeper Scott Flinders, while another cross bounced up at an awkward angle.

After scoring at AFC Wimbledon a fortnight ago – United’s most recent goal – the Republic of Ireland player hopes another strike is on the horizon.

He said: “One just hit me in the stomach and the other one went behind me, it wasn’t ideal.

“But I’m getting in the right positions and hopefully they start going in the back of the net.”