OXFORD United slumped to a 2-0 defeat at the home of Sky Bet League One strugglers Burton Albion.

The hosts took a slender lead into the half-time break through a mixture of the sublime and the unfortunate.

With 40 minutes played, debutant Zac Ashworth pinged an effort against the post, with the ball bouncing off the woodwork and rebounding across the line via Simon Eastwood.

Albion doubled their lead when another debutant, Dale Taylor, flicked home with just four minutes of the second half played.

Karl Robinson made two changes to the side which was beaten 2-0 at Wycombe Wanderers in midweek, as United’s head coach stuck with his favoured 4-3-3 formation.

The only alterations to the team saw Brandon Fleming and Matty Taylor come into the side in place of Djavan Anderson and Yanic Wildschut.

Albion boss Dino Maamria gave debuts to four of his January recruits – goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray, centre half Jasper Moon, left wing back Ashworth and striker Taylor.

The latter had the game’s first opportunity when he beat the offside trap but his effort was scuffed and easy for Eastwood to claim.

Straight at the other end, MacGillivray tipped over a Taylor effort from just inside the box as the U’s got a sight of goal for the first time.

Kyle Joseph then fired high over the bar following a couple of United corners, before a clearer opportunity fell to Billy Bodin.

With 11 minutes on the clock, Bodin fired a volley goalwards but John Brayford made a superb block on the goal line as he headed the ball over the bar.

Sam Long then fired wide at the near post from a Bodin corner, and Taylor headed wide at the back post from a long Ciaron Brown throw-in, but the U’s were unable to work MacGillivray.

At the other end, Eastwood made a brilliant save down to his right, to thwart a Brayford header at the back post.

It mattered little though with the Albion captain deemed to be in an offside position.

With five minutes to go until the half-time break, Eastwood was beaten when Ashworth fired a 25-yard volley against the root of the post.

Unfortunately for United’s goalkeeper, the ball bounced off the woodwork and against him, before nestling in the back of the net.

Albion had their tails up and Nottingham Forest loanee Taylor brought a smart save out of Eastwood, before Mark Helm fired wide with the rebound.

Robinson made a change at the break as Gatlin O’Donkor replaced Taylor up front, but it was the home side who struck first in the second period.

It was another debut goal too, as Dale Taylor cleverly flicked in from inside the six-yard box after brilliant work down the right by the home side.

Ashworth sliced an effort wide following a corner, before Robinson again turned to his bench.

Shortly before the hour mark, Wildschut and Tyler Goodrham came on in place of Marcus McGuane and Bodin.

Both teams cancelled each other out though with neither side able to get clear sights of goal.

Goodrham found a bit of space on the left edge of the area, but his low right-footed shot was easily claimed by MacGillivray at his near post.

Joseph followed that up with a stinging effort which MacGillivray spilled but Albion were able to clear the ball to safety.

As the clocked ticked down, Helm made a brilliant interception to deny Wildschut from eight yards out, after United had worked the ball down the left.

Helm then had the chance to make it 3-0 in stoppage time when he capitalised on a couple of errors at the back to run at the United defence, however he dragged his shot wide from the edge of the area.

Burton Albion (3-4-2-1): MacGillivray; Brayford, Hughes, Moon; Hamer, Taylor, Oshilaja, Ashworth; Smith (Keillor-Dunn 69), Helm; Taylor.

Unused subs: Amissah, Powell, Ndaba, Shaughnessy, Carayol, Gilligan.

Booked: None.

Oxford United (4-3-3): Eastwood, Long, Moore, Brown, Fleming, Bate, McGuane (Wildschut 57), Brannagan; Joseph, Taylor (O’Donkor 46), Bodin (Goodrham 57).

Unused subs: McGinty, Findlay, Anderson, Johnson.

Booked: Goodrham.

Referee: Adam Herczeg (Durham)

Attendance: 2,993 (away TBC)