Blues undone by Taylor as inconsistency strikes again
Town paid the price for not making a dominant first-half pay as homesickness struck again.
Blues had chances to break the deadlock from the first moments of the game, Will Keane and Kayden Jackson both threatening in the first 15 minutes, Keane also denied by a point-blank save from Simon Eastwood and then seeing a header go wide.
Oxford rarely caused any alarms in the first-half but just before the break they carved Blues open and Matty Taylor finished off a good move from eight yards.
Josh Earl had a header kept out early in the second-half but Town couldn’t find that elusive goal and Blues' woes were completed just before the final whistle when Jackson was shown a straight red card.
Town stayed with the same side that beat Burton so comprehensively last weekend, Andre Dozzell coming in for the injured James Norwood on the bench.
Jackson, on his 26th birthday, found space down the right and Eastwood was at full stretch in the Oxford goal to get on the end of the cross as Keane threatened inside the first few minutes, then Tomas Holy was quick off his line to beat Taylor to the ball as the wind carried it beyond the Town defence.
Jackson’s skill and pace took him away from Elliott Moore, his cross having too much on it for the supporting Keane and Alan Judge, Keane almost in from Jackson’s clever pass, then Moore got in the way of Luke Woolfenden’s piledriver from the edge of the box before Jackson was denied in the box.
Jackson was again the provider from the right, his pull-back blasted over by Luke Garbutt as Town searched for the breakthrough, Garbutt whipping in a free-kick that Luke Chambers flicked on but Oxford saw out the danger as Woolfenden looked to capitalise at the back post.
Chambers’ header was deflected over from a corner, Eastwood saving point-blank from Keane following another corner, then Keane’s cross was arrowed towards Garbutt but Alejandro Rodriguez intervened as Blues enjoyed a spell of pressure on the visitors’ goal.
Keane headed just wide from Garbutt’s corner, James Henry countered for Oxford but his shot was gathered comfortably by Holy, Blues taking the game up the other end immediately and Garbutt’s goalbound effort was blocked 10 yards out.
Jon Nolan fizzed a shot just wide, Henry responded from 30 yards straight at Holy but it was Oxford who took the lead a minute before half-time with a well-worked goal, Cameron Brannagan and Henry linking up and Taylor left Holy with no chance from close range.
Jackson was immediately a threat again as the second-half got underway, his cross cleared behind for an early corner, Earl’s header tipped over by Eastwood, Judge then firing over from the edge of the box.
Woolfenden was in the right place to deflect Brannagan’s shot behind after Henry set him up as Oxford looked a threat on the break, while at the other end Earl’s cross cannoned off Gwion Edwards and into the grateful hands of Eastwood.
Nathan Holland sent a 25 yarder over, Taylor then getting on the end of a long ball and showing a great touch to pull it out of the air but he couldn’t beat the on-rushing Holy.
Nolan set up Garbutt on the left, Oxford hacking clear, Eastwood holding firm from Judge’s delivery as Blues asked questions again before both teams changed it up, Holland replaced by Mark Sykes and Teddy Bishop on for Edwards.
Oxford held on though and Town’s frustrations were complete when Jackson was sent-off after a clash with Rob Dickie in added on time.
Town: Holy, Chambers, Woolfenden, Earl, Edwards (Bishop 70), Nolan, Downes, Garbutt, Judge (Sears 90), Jackson, Keane. Subs not used: Norris, Skuse, Wilson, Dozzell, Huws. Sent-off: Jackson. Booked: Garbutt, Woolfenden.
Oxford: Eastwood, Ruffels, Dickie, Moore, Rodriguez, Brannagan, Taylor (Mackie 80), Forde, Henry (Agyei 83), Holland (Sykes 70), Browne. Subs not used: Stevens, Long, Hanson, Thorne. Booked: Browne.