OXFORD United suffered a defeat on the road in Des Buckingham’s first game in charge of the club.

Both the U’s and hosts Cheltenham Town ended the match with 10 men, as the struggling Robins claimed a 2-0 win which saw United drop out of the top two automatic promotion places.

Rob Street gave the home side the lead with a fine strike during the first half, but he was then shown a straight red card for an elbow on Stephan Negru in stoppage time at the end of the first 45 minutes.

Ruben Rodrigues made sure both sides played the final 22 minutes with 10 men when he picked up a second yellow card, while Will Goodwin gave the hosts a two-goal buffer when he scrambled the ball in from close range.

Buckingham was forced into a couple of changes from the side which won 3-2 at Leyton Orient prior to the international break.

Elliott Moore picked up his fifth booking of the season against Orient, so was suspended, while Greg Leigh picked up a knock while away with Jamaica.

In their place came Negru and Jordan Thorniley, while Cameron Brannagan captained the side in the absence of Moore.

The Robins made a fast start, with Ciaron Brown twice heading the ball away inside the opening 60 seconds.

James Beadle then made an excellent save to adjust his body and flick away an Aidan Keena shot from the goal line.

Curtis Davies then glanced a header wide from a deep free kick, before the dangerous Keena had a shot deflected out for a corner.

The U’s had to wait until past the midway point for a sight of goal, when Brannagan smashed a 20-yard free kick into the wall and behind for a corner.

Thorniley then saw a smashed effort charged down from another corner, while Rodrigues was thwarted by the recovering Davies following a United counter-attack.

At the other end, Liam Sercombe watched the ball drop on the edge of the penalty area, before hitting a sweet strike into a U’s defender and out for a corner.

The home side opened the scoring moments later though when the ball fell to Street just outside the box, with the former Crystal Palace striker sending his effort through the crowd and into Beadle’s bottom corner.

United looked to hit back and worked it well down the right-hand side, with Mark Harris dummying the ball for Billy Bodin to aim a shot inside the post, however Luke Southwood was able to make a simple enough stop.

Five minutes of stoppage time were signalled, and the hosts went down to 10 men when Street was shown a straight red card for an elbow on Negru.

Buckingham made a change at half-time with Josh Murphy replacing Stan Mills, while there was a tweak in formation too.

Brown dropped into a three-man defence with Thorniley and Negru, while Murphy and Fin Stevens operated at wing back. Bodin and Rodrigues played off Harris up front.

The U’s began the second period with more spark, as Brannagan fizzed an effort at Southwood, while Rodrigues was guilty of a glaring miss minutes later.

Murphy was excellent in getting to the byline and producing a wicked cross, which Southwood failed to effectively clear, with the ball dropping to Rodrigues eight yards out, however his strike was ballooned over the crossbar.

Northern Ireland goalkeeper Southwood then made a fantastic stop to claw out a header from his international colleague Brown.

The Robins then enjoyed a spell of pressure themselves, with Goodwin whistling a shot over the bar from a central area just outside the box.

Brown came close again when his grasscutter drifted inches past the far post.

Buckingham made his second alteration when Kyle Edwards made his return from a hamstring injury in place of Stevens, the change seeing Edwards on the left and Murphy move over to the right.

Bodin smashed a shot narrowly over from 20 yards, shortly before United were reduced to 10 men when Rodrigues collected his second yellow card of the afternoon for clipping Ben Williams.

With just under quarter of an hour to go, the Robins doubled their advantage when Goodwin scrambled a loose ball home from close range.

Southwood was at full stretch to tip a Brannagan effort round the post, before Buckingham made a double swap which saw Josh McEachran and Tyler Goodrham replace Marcus McGuane and Bodin with 10 minutes to go.

The home side managed to see out the remaining time on the clock though, plus six minutes of injury time, limiting the U’s to cracks from distance.

Cheltenham Town (3-4-1-2): Southwood; Bevan, Davies, Freestone; Long, Pett, Sercombe (Chapman 83), Williams; Street; Keena (Lloyd 56), Goodwin.

Unused subs: Harris, Bradbury, Horton, Peupion, Butler-Oyededji.

Booked: Williams, Bevan, Pett, Southwood.

Sent off: Street.

Oxford United (4-2-3-1): Beadle; Stevens (Edwards 65), Negru, Thorniley, Brown; McGuane (McEachran 80), Brannagan; Mills (Murphy 46), Rodrigues, Bodin (Goodrham 80); Harris (Perkins 88).

Unused subs: Eastwood, Smyth.

Booked: Thorniley, Rodrigues, Brannagan.

Sent off: Rodrigues.

Referee: Scott Simpson (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 5,049 (1,517 away).