Full-time: Robins 1, Oxford United 1Life under Paul Buckle’s leadership began with a home draw against Oxford United as Cheltenham Town ended their run of four straight defeats.
Byron Harrison put the Robins ahead in the 52nd minute to net the opening goal of the Buckle reign, before Tyrone Barnett levelled for the U’s, who would have been celebrating a victory had it not been for an outstanding display from Trevor Carson.
New boss Buckle made two changes for his first match in charge of the Robins, with skipper Matt Taylor making his return from a hamstring injury and Raffaele De Vita recalled.
Defender Steve Elliott missed out with bone bruising, while Lee Vaughan served the first of his three match ban for a red card against Wycombe Wanderers last week.
There was also a change of formation, with 3-5-2 becoming 4-4-2 and Jack Deaman moving across to right-back in Vaughan’s absence.
Cheltenham started positively, with Harrison seeing a shot deflected over the bar after Jason Taylor caught Danny Rose in possession in the 11th minute.
But Oxford, backed by 774 travelling fans, then started to create chances and only some sterling work from Carson kept them at bay.
The Northern Irishman’s first notable stop came in the 15th minute when Danny Hylton’s pass released Barnett.
The former Macclesfield and Crawley front man raced through on goal, but Carson stood up and made an excellent block.
Carson was beaten in the 19th minute when Joe Riley’s free-kick flew past him after Troy Brown tripped Hylton on the edge of the box, but the fierce effort cannoned back off the bar.
Alfie Potter was denied by the legs of the overworked Carson in the 24th minute before Matt Richards smashed a volley over the bar after a corner was half cleared to him 20 yards out.
Oxford’s front players continued to ask questions, but Terry Gornell worked his way into a shooting position for Cheltenham only to be denied by Johnny Mullins’ block.
Full-back Tareiq Holmes-Dennis sent a shot over from 25 yards before Carson parried Hylton’s drive which was well-struck but straight at him as the first half finished goalless.
Cheltenham made the breakthrough seven minutes into the second period, when Deaman’s superb cross from the right was converted by Harrison, who celebrated his seventh goal of the season.
Oxford hit back in the 61st minute when Barnett was played in by Andy Whing and this time he made no mistake, slotting underneath Carson for his third of the campaign.
Buckle made his first substitution, with winger Zack Kotwica replacing De Vita in the 66th minute.
Harrison was denied a second by Ryan Clarke’s reaction save in the 70th minute after Craig Braham-Barrett’s deflected cross.
Carson’s heroics continued as he kept out Callum O’Dowda’s shot after Holmes-Dennis’ cross before a double save from Joe Riley in the 77th minute.
Carson stuck out a foot to somehow keep out Hylton’s shot in the 82nd minute and ensure Cheltenham held on for a point ahead of next Sunday's FA Cup second round tie against Dover Athletic.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): Carson; Deaman, M Taylor, Brown, Braham-Barrett; Ferdinand, J Taylor, Richards, De Vita (Kotwica 66); Harrison, Gornell (Hanks 75). Subs not used: Haworth, Gould, Black, Sterling-James, Williams.
OXFORD UNITED (4-2-3-1): Clarke; Riley, Mullins, Wright, Holmes-Dennis; Whing, Rose; Potter (Collins 79), O'Dowda, Hylton; Barnett. Subs not used: Crocombe, Dunkley, Meades,Ruffels, Howard, Campbell.
REFEREE: Pat Miller.
ATTENDANCE: 3,002 (774 away).