OXFORD United suffered their fifth straight away defeat as Alfie May’s goal gave Cheltenham Town the points.

The Robins forward struck midway through the second half of a game lacking in chances, as the U’s failed to score for the second successive match.

Neither side had much to shout about before the break, with James Henry twice forcing Scott Flinders into good saves with shots from range.

May then tapped home after the restart as United went behind for the first time on the road in Sky Bet League One this season.

The U’s could not find a response to give their near-1,500 fans at Whaddon Road something to cheer, leaving them still searching for their first away win of the campaign.

Cameron Brannagan was the notable United absentee after sustaining a non-footballing injury in the week, which he should recover from in time for next Saturday’s visit of Gillingham.

It saw Herbie Kane make his maiden league start in the midfield three, while Sam Long was given the nod ahead of Anthony Forde at right back for his first start of the season.

Neither Elliott Moore or Sam Winnall were fit enough to make the squad, while Cheltenham named former United striker Kyle Vassell on the bench.

The hosts’ best chance of the first half came within 50 seconds of kick-off, as Alfie May’s low cross from the right was turned against his own post by Luke McNally.

Cheltenham’s fast start quickly faded and United began to threaten, with Mark Sykes seeing plenty of the ball early on.

The 24-year-old went close after nine minutes as he improvised to meet Gavin Whyte’s cross with a backheel, but it was straight at Scott Flinders.

The game settled down, but Cheltenham burst into life midway through the half.

May exchanged passes with Ellis Chapman and raced into the penalty area, with Alex Gorrin and Jordan Thorniley throwing themselves in front of the shot to prevent a goal.

Flinders came out on top of his first battle with Henry after 24 minutes, sprawling to push away the midfielder’s volley from 20 yards.

Both sides were struggling to carve out clear-cut chances, although Steve Seddon breathed a sigh of relief when Sean Long’s cross looped off his foot and onto the top of Jack Stevens’s net, rather than in it.

The U’s forced eight corners in the half without forcing a clear opening from any of them, while Flinders tipped over another fierce Henry effort from range seven minutes before the break.

United needed a moment of quality and Kane almost provided it within four minutes of the restart.

The midfielder received the ball from Henry and teed up Whyte with a delightful backheel, only for the winger to see his shot blocked for a corner.

Whyte had the ball in the net moments later, but the offside flag had gone up long before he poked home at the back post from McNally’s header.

Chapman blazed well over from 18 yards and Mattie Pollock headed wide from a free-kick, as Cheltenham enjoyed a good spell around the hour mark.

Chris Hussey’s 65th-minute free-kick fell to Conor Thomas at the back post, but he could not get clean contact and Stevens dived on the ball.

The goalkeeper had no answer three minutes later, though, as Cheltenham took the lead.

Kyle Joseph chased a long ball and crossed for May, who escaped the attentions of McNally to tap home from close range.

Henry shot the wrong side of the near post moments later, before Robinson brought on Nathan Holland and Dan Agyei for Alex Gorrin and Matty Taylor.

United stuck to 4-3-3, but created little as the minutes ran out.

Billy Bodin replaced Kane as he made his first appearance for a month and the winger immediately saw a free-kick blocked. It summed up United’s afternoon.

Cheltenham Town (3-5-2): Flinders, Long, Pollock, Boyle, Blair, Perry (Freestone 85), Thomas, Chapman, Hussey, Joseph (Vassell 77), May.

Unused subs: Evans, Williams, Bonds, Horton.

Booked: Thomas.

Oxford United (4-3-3): Stevens, Long, McNally, Thorniley, Seddon, Henry, Gorrin (Agyei 72), Kane (Bodin 88), Sykes, Taylor (Holland 72), Whyte.

Unused subs: Eastwood, Mousinho, Forde, Williams.

Booked: Long.

Referee: Paul Howard (London).

Attendance: 5,004 (1,452 visitors).