JUSTIN Edinburgh’s third anniversary as manager of Newport County AFC ended with the club bringing in a new coach.

The team bus that had taken County to the Kassam Stadium suffered a clutch failure and a replacement had to be called to take them home.

It summed up what turned out to be a damp squib of a celebration for Edinburgh as party poopers Oxford United took all three points despite being reduced to ten men in the 55th minute.

The traditional gift for a third anniversary is leather and the Exiles boss received a metaphorical boot in the face from Michael Appleton’s men and, in his view at least, from referee Darren Sheldrake.

The seven-game unbeaten run in League Two is over and Edinburgh and his players will be hugely disappointed not to have taken advantage of Tyrone Barnett’s red card.

The Oxford striker received two yellow cards for fouls on Ismail Yakubu and Darren Jones within ten minutes of the restart.

And that should have been the cue for the visitors to show a ruthless streak and turn the game on its head.

Because County were fortunate to be just one goal behind at that stage after the hosts, who started the day in the bottom two, had dominated much of the first half.

Barnett and Danny Hylton should both have scored before Michael Collins’ curling free-kick sailed into the bottom corner of Joe Day’s net on 41 minutes.

Edinburgh called it a fluke but it was similar to Andy Sandell’s winner at Portsmouth at the end of August – the last time County scored away from home.

And, despite their numerical advantage for more than 40 minutes when you include time added on, they rarely looked like beating Ryan Clarke in the Oxford goal.

That has to be a concern for Edinburgh after his strikers had seemingly found their form at home to AFC Wimbledon last week.

Joe Pigott, who bagged a brace in that game, missed the best chance when he did well to take the ball round Clarke but lifted his shot too high from wide on the left of the area.

And Aaron O’Connor, who was rewarded for his late goal with a start ahead of Chris Zebroski, wasted his only opportunity very early on when he took far too long to get his shot away and was robbed.

New loan signing James Loveridge and Zebroski were thrown on and Edinburgh was convinced that the latter should have won a penalty in injury time.

But the referee, who upset everyone by dishing out ten yellow cards and a red, ignored Zebroski’s dramatic fall in the box and the game was lost.

Poor as the man in the middle was, however, there were too many men in red who also had an off day.

County missed the energy and dynamism of the injured Lee Minshull and his replacement Yan Klukowski, who has had to show great patience this season, failed to grasp his chance to shine.

Adam Chapman, playing against his former club, was also well below the standards he has set so far this campaign.

Wing-backs Andy Sandell and Robbie Willmott made minimal impact down the flanks and, of the usual creative forces, only Mark Byrne can be truly satisfied with his performance.

Sadly the Irish ace was one of five County players to be booked and he and Sandell, who was also cautioned, will now face a one-game ban having picked up five yellows.

Edinburgh will hope that the return from suspension of Andrew Hughes and the potential recoveries of Minshull and Ryan Jackson will make the difference as he starts his fourth year in the job at home to York City next Saturday.

Oxford: Clarke, Newey, Raynes, Mullins, Rose (Ruffels, 73), Hylton, O’Dowda (Brown, 86), Collins, Riley, Barnett, Howard (Morris, 58)

Subs not used: Long, Whing, Long, Jakubiak

Booked: Riley, Rose, Morris, Barnett Sent off: Barnett, 55

County: Day, Sandell, Jones, Yakubu, Tancock, Willmott, Byrne, Chapman (Loveridge, 59), Klukowski (Crow, 86), Pigott, O’Connor (Zebroski, 70)

Subs not used: Pidgeley, Feely, Owen-Evans, Poole

Booked: Sandell, Jones, Yakubu, Byrne, Pigott

Referee: Darren Sheldrake

Attendance: 5,072 (643 County)