KARL Robinson rued a tactical error in the build-up to the winning goal as Oxford United started the Sky Bet League One season with a 1-0 defeat at Derby County.

The U’s looked set to leave Pride Park with a point after holding their own in a noisy atmosphere created by 31,000 fans.

But Derby ended strongest and Conor Hourihane stroked home their winner ten minutes from time.

Read the match report here

Stuart Findlay gave the ball away in the build-up, but Robinson felt midfielders Alex Gorrin and Marcus McGuane crossing over was key as it created space for the goalscorer.

The U’s head coach said: “We worked all week on two midfield players not crossing over each other on the edge of the box.

“This is the difference in big games, the attention to detail in small moments against good players, they punish you.

“Alex comes running past Marcus McGuane, who is doing a great job delaying, and it opens up the space two or three yards outside the edge of the box.

“It’s a wonderful finish, but what do you expect? He’s a Premier League player in League One.

“We’ve got to be cute enough not to leave them that space.

“He walked in the dressing room and the first thing he said was he shouldn’t have come across, so he knows.

“We looked a lot more mature in what was a cauldron at times, but I don’t think we got carried away and became too open and disconnected.

“In previous years we might have got picked off two, three or four times. I thought we looked relatively secure.”

It leaves the U’s still waiting for their first opening-day victory since 2017.

The visitors arguably edged the opening 45 minutes without seriously working Joe Wildsmith as Matty Taylor, Billy Bodin and James Henry all had half-chances.

Bodin forced the Rams goalkeeper into a terrific save just before the hour mark, but United tired and had only Josh Murphy in terms of senior attacking experience on the bench.

Robinson admitted he lacked options to call on and is still looking for several new additions towards the top end of the pitch in the final month of the transfer window.

He said: “The two wide players were almost physically gone, so we felt putting two wide players on and Cameron (Brannagan) in the middle of the pitch would give us that security.

“Our two midfield players got so disconnected late on and we didn’t really have anything else to change anything at the top end of the pitch when we went 1-0 down.

“Everything we’ve got at the club was on the pitch to get us out of the mire.”

On recruitment, he added: “We’re working hard, we’re still waiting on one or two things to drop.

“I still think we need another midfield player, a bit more creativity to help, one wide player and a striker.

“Possibly a right back, but James Golding has been training tremendously well in that position.

“We’re quite happy with that area, if something comes up we’ve got to be quite careful as you don’t want to waste a loan on a position you already have a player in.”