LOCAL rivals Oxford United continue to hold the Indian sign over Swindon Town.

The County Ground men made the trip to their bitter rivals on Saturday for the two teams’ first league meeting in four-and-a-half years but were unable to break a run of six defeats in all competitions against the Us as they slipped to a 2-0 loss, ending the afternoon with nine men.

Visitors Town lined up in the same system that earned them a point on the road at Peterborough United seven days previous, but with a handful of changes.

After almost snatching the winner against the Posh, Luke Norris replaced Nathan Delfouneso as the lone striker while Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill was preferred to James Brophy on the left flank.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Obika, Raphael Branco and Yaser Kasim, who have all had their own recent injury worries, all returned to the Swindon bench to hand boss Williams plenty of reliable alternatives should he feel the need to tinker with his team’s approach.

A white-hot atmosphere greeted both teams and helped contribute to some early jitters, not least from linesman Andrew Fox, who drew the ire of the home supporters for raising his flag as former Town striker Wes Thomas looked to get on the end of a looping header, which came from Swindon’s John Goddard.

Oxford’s Chris Maguire shot over the Town bar with the first effort of the game six minutes in and shortly afterwards, Us captain John Lundstram attempted to lob Lawrence Vigouroux from distance but the Swindon keeper was stoic as he watched the ball loop wide of his goal.

However, the contest stuttered into life slowly from there on, with Swindon keeping the ball well but struggling to impose themselves on their rivals, who gave away a succession of niggly fouls early on.

With 22 minutes on the clock, Oxford’s Phil Edwards took matters into his own hands and unleashed a fizzing piledriver from distance but Vigouroux watched the right-back’s effort all the way and made a confident stop.

At the other end, Norris headed wide from an Anton Rodgers cross with Chey Dunkley breathing down the Town frontman’s neck, while goalie Vigouroux was also forced to tip a Maguire strike over the bar.

The Oxford winger had another shooting opportunity in the 38th minute as he collected his own quickly-taken free-kick but his effort was well wide of the mark as the two sides struggled to conjure up the requisite quality for an opening goal.

Former Manchester United trainee Joe Rothwell burst forward with purpose but his effort was too weak to trouble Vigouroux but with just a few minutes to go until the break, the Swindon goalie was left picking the ball out of his own net.

Oxford attacking midfielder Liam Sercombe was tripped by Thompson’s trailing leg inches away from the perimeter of the area and despite Town’s players arguing that the foul had been committed outside the box, after consulting with assistant Fox, referee Stuart Atwell awarded the penalty.

Maguire took the resultant kick and gave Vigouroux no chance as he lashed into the top right-hand corner and just to ramp up the ill feeling between the two sets of supporters, the two-time Scotland international raced off to celebrate in front of the Swindon fans.

What appeared to be a can of drink was hauled in the direction of Maguire whilst those of a yellow persuasion trotted off for their own half-time refreshments with a single-goal lead to savour.

Five minutes after the break, a piece of good fortune almost led to a Swindon equaliser as, after Michael Doughty was tackled, the ball broke kindly to Goddard in the box.

However, the Town number 10 saw his low effort smothered by onrushing Us keeper Simon Eastwood, with Ormonde-Ottewill blazing the follow-up over the bar.

Williams soon opted to shuffle his pack and send Obika and Kasim into the fray but Oxford were next to threaten, with Rothwell drawing a fine save from Vigouroux and Marvin Johnson’s strike having to be scrambled away by the Swindon back line.

On the hour mark, the Us’ pressure resulted in a second goal, leaving Town staring down the barrel.

As the visitors built from the back, possession found its way back to Vigouroux but Maguire was rewarded for his persistence, with the winger sliding to chase down the goalie’s attempted clearance from an Ormonde-Ottewill back-pass and seeing the ball rocket into the net to make it 2-0.

Town were rocked to the core and with 64 minutes on the clock, Lloyd Jones, who had earlier been booked for dissent, lost his composure and wildly kicked Sercombe as Oxford broke on the counter, earning his marching orders for a second yellow card.

The 10 men of Swindon still managed to fashion an opportunity to get back into the game however, Furlong firing over after the ball broke fortuitously into his path in the area but the remainder of the game was largely an exercise in damage limitation for the visitors.

The hosts wasted opportunities to further extend their lead as Johnson fired into the side-netting after being sent clear by substitute Alex MacDonald, who himself was also denied by a stunning save from Vigouroux to deny his attempted chip.

At the other end, Norris had a late effort beaten away by Oxford keeper Eastwood but the drama wasn't done there.

In added time, the hosts' MacDonald chased down a lost cause and lunged in horribly on Vigoruoux as he dived to claim the ball.

The Town goalie shot straight back up and lashed out at the Oxford man - he was shown a straight red card for his troubles while MacDonald was booked.

For now, the bragging rights remain at the Kassam Stadium, which reverberated with the chant of “six in a row” as a chastening afternoon for Swindon came to an end.

SWINDON TOWN: Lawrence Vigouroux, Darnell Furlong, Nathan Thompson (C), Lloyd Jones, Bradley Barry, Anton Rodgers (Yaser Kasim 53), Conor Thomas (Nathan Delfouneso 66), Michael Doughty, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, John Goddard (Jonathan Obika 53), Luke Norris.

Subs not used: Will Henry, Raphael Branco, James Brophy, Sean Murray.

Attendance: 11,042 (1,190 away supporters)