Swindon Town's unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of bitter rivals Oxford United on Saturday lunchtime with a frantic first 20 minutes seeing the Robins go two goals down.
Asa Hall fired the hosts in front from close range on 16 minutes before Oli Johnson doubled the advantage two minutes later - both goals after the home side had been reduced to ten men following the 11th minute red card for James Constable. Town made two changes to the side that had beaten Burton Albion in midweek with Oliver Risser coming in for Jonathan Smoith and Ronan Murray coming in for Alan Connell up front.
There was an early opening for the Robins with Ronan Murray capitalising on a poor clearance from home 'keeper Ryan Clarke but he shot wide from the edge of the 18-yard box. The home side were down to ten men just 11 minutes into the game when James Constable was shown a straight red card for an elbow across the face off defender Joe Devera. Having settled into the game, Town carved out an opening on the quarter of an hour mark with an interchange of passes between Benson and Murray setting the Irishman away but he shot straight at Clarke.
The home side took the lead on 16 minutes with Asa Hall firing past Wes Foderingham from close range after a deep free-kick into the box from Lee Holmes. The frantic start to the game continued with ten-man Oxford doubling their advantage just two minutes later. A quick break down the left from former Town loanee Holmes saw the wideman cross for Oli Johnson who saw the ball run across Cibocchi before slotting home from six yards out.
Cibocchi's afternoon came to an early end as he was substituted on just 20 minutes with Jonathan Smith coming on, with Oliver Risser moving to centre-back with Alan McCormack at left-back. Town were seeing plenty of the ball and came agonisingly close to getting a goal back on 33 minutes as Ritchie's fierce left foot strike cannoned off the right hand post and away to safety.
It had been a frustrating first half for the Robins which, despite five minutes of first half injury time, the hosts went in 2-0 to the good. There were no changes at the break with Paolo Di Canio sending the same eleven out for the second period. An early chance fell to Luke Rooney but having brought the ball down, he fired straight at Clarke with 54 minutes played.
Another opportunity followed a Ritchie corner, with Benson rising high but his header fell straight into the arms of Clarke from close range. Di Canio then made his second change of the game with substitute Smith replaced by Lee Cox in the heart of the midfield. Di Canio's final change of the day saw Billy Bodin step off the bench on 64 minutes to replace Murray in the frontline alongside Benson. A chance then fell for Devera following a corner but his effort went high over the bar.
Town spurned several shooting opportunities as the game turned into the final quarter of an hour with the Robins still trying to unlock the hosts' backline. It was a frustrating and disappointing afternoon for the 1,266 Town fans who had made the short trip from Wiltshire as the Robins now look to Tuesday's home encounter with Dagenham & Redbridge.
Final Score: Oxford United 2 Swindon Town 0