SWINDON Town assistant manager Tommy Wright cited a poor first half as the main reason behind his side’s 2-1 defeat to Oxford United on Tuesday night.

Town were poor from the first whistle and conceded the opening goal inside three minutes at the County Ground – the impressive Brandon Barker saw a heavily deflected shot squirm past Connal Trueman.

Swindon rallied in the second half and were presented with a golden chance to score, but Brett Pitman saw his penalty saved by Jack Stevens.

To add insult to injury, substitute Daniel Agyei powered home a late goal for Oxford, rendering Taylor Curran’s injury-time strike redundant as United escaped with the points.

Wright was disappointed with yet another slow start from Swindon, and said the first half was nowhere near good enough if Town were to grasp the derby day spoils for the second time this season.

He said: “I think it went wrong in the first half, really. I thought losing a goal after three minutes didn’t help. In derby matches, you want to stay in them but we gave Oxford – who are playing well at the moment – a chance straight away.

“Conceding after three minutes was disappointing, and in the first half I thought we looked like we were lacking in confidence and belief.

“Second half, we kept going and the penalty was disappointing – the goalkeeper made a good save. We kept going but then we lost another poor goal. Credit to the players because they kept going, and that’s what we have to do.”

A third defeat in succession saw Swindon fall back into the League One relegation zone on Tuesday night.

Wright said the dressing room was gutted after the result, but vowed the whole club would pick itself up ahead of another important home game against Gillingham on Saturday.

The 55-year-old said he and manager John Sheridan would lead from the front and push the players on to regain some form in the final dozen games of the season.

Wright said: “Everybody is disappointed because it’s our local rivals, but there are plenty of games to go. It’s up to me and John (Sheridan) to keep the players going, and try to win on Saturday.

“Confidence is a massive thing, but the players know they’re in a battle. They have to stand up – we have to help them as much as we can, and that’s what we’ll do.”