A RED card for Ian Sharps was the major talking point as Burton Albion's unbeaten League Two record came to an end in an ill-tempered defeat to promotion rivals Oxford United at the Pirell Stadium today.
The Brewers centre-half was given his marching orders for kicking out at ex-Premier League striker Dave Kitson after an aerial challenge between the players.
Sharps could not have too many arguments about the decision, although the fact that Kitson was only shown a yellow caused irritation among the Albion players and fans.
Manager Gary Rowett named the same team that beat Accrington Stanley 1-0 last Saturday, with Adam Reed keeping his place in midfield, and Robbie Weir benched again, while Michael Symes started up front with Rene Howe.
Oxford had the better of the opening spell with Danny Rose blazing over and Asa Hall firing narrowly wide.
At the other end, Chris Hussey twice came close, but just as Albion were getting into the game, the key decision came.
Sharps and Kitson both went for the same ball, and after Sharps kicked out at Kitson, the latter retaliated with a push. But the referee deemed only the initial kick worthy of a sending off.
From then on, it was a matter of holding on for Albion, but they only managed to do so until the 49th minute, when the home defence stood off Alfie Potter, who beat two men before his deflected shot beat Dean Lyness at the far post.
Albion had their chance to get back into the game, but never really tested Ryan Clarke, and the game was sewn up in the 85th minute when Rose tapped in Ryan Williams' right-wing cross.