DES Buckingham refused to blame a possible officiating mix-up as he watched his Oxford United side lose their first game with him in charge.

Rob Street gave home side Cheltenham Town a first half lead, but was sent off in stoppage time at the end of the opening 45 minutes for an elbow on Stephan Negru.

Ruben Rodrigues was then shown a second yellow card midway through the second period, before Will Goodwin scrambled in the all-important second goal for the Robins.

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Buckingham said: “It’s a disappointing result, of course. I thought in the first half, they started better than we did, and as the game went on, we grew into it and found ourselves again.

“I actually thought they scored against the run of play, while we were on top.

“They were a very direct side and a very physical side, and I thought we stood up and matched that for most of the game.

“We made some changes at half-time and we started the second half extremely well, and had several chances.

“A switch-off and a long ball costs you a second, and then a sending off kills the momentum.”

Discussing the second goal of the afternoon, Buckingham said: “He flagged like it was offside and then he put it down, and of course when the players see the flag, they stop a little bit.

“The game doesn’t stop until the referee blows the whistle is the old saying, and that’s always true.”