Burton manager Paul Peschisolido slammed the sending-off of Tom Parkes as his side's relegation fears deepened with a 3-0 defeat at Oxford.
The defender, on loan from Leicester, was shown a second yellow card with 13 minutes left for a foul on James Constable to leave Burton with nine men.
"I can't understand the sending-off of Tom Parkes. There was nothing malicious, and he won the ball," said Peschisolido. "It was just the Oxford players surrounding the ref to get him sent off that did it."
Steve MacLean scored twice for the hosts either side of a Tom Craddock penalty after Darren Moore was sent off for bringing down Constable in the area.
"The first goal was a massive deflection, which just sums up our luck at the moment, everything seems to be going against us, and I thought the third goal was offside," added Peschisolido.
"After the first Oxford goal we dominated.
"We're still two points clear of the relegation places with four games in hand, which is a comfortable position to be in, but we're in a dogfight, we know that. It's backs to the walls stuff now."
Oxford climbed up to 10th and still have designs on a late charge towards play-off places.
Coach Andy Melville said: "In the first half they started to pass it and we didn't take care of the ball like we should have done and gave it away cheaply, which didn't give us enough chance to get into the game.
"In the second half we passed it a lot better, and that showed in the third goal. I know they were down to nine men. We passed it around so much better and when you do that against nine men, obviously gaps are going to appear."
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