OXFORD United's dismal first-half display was down to losing the midfield battle against Rotherham United, according to boss Karl Robinson.

Kyle Vassell hit a brace and then set up Richard Wood as the Millers raced into a big lead before half-time.

Although the U's improved after the break they still went down 3-1, with Marcus Browne on target.

The hosts were hampered by an early booking to Alex Gorrin, who was withdrawn at half-time.

Cameron Brannagan also only lasted 45 minutes on his return, with Robinson saying the midfielder was still feeling pain from a knee injury.

The U's boss said: "One of our biggest strengths is that middle part of the pitch and we lost the midfield battle.

"Then we didn’t win the second balls and all of a sudden if you don’t do that against Rotherham they turn you around and hit you on the break. It’s clearly obvious."

He added: "It just didn’t click.

"Going forwards wasn’t a problem, it was in the middle of the pitch where we lost all the fight.

"All of a sudden Alex gets booked early on and then gets involved in all of the emotion of the game.

"I felt sorry for Shandon (Baptiste) because every richochet went against him.

"We just lost the midfield battle in the first half and that’s the top and bottom of it.

"They hit us on the break and picked us off."