Cherries ’ penalty shoot-out misery returned to haunt them last night as they were dumped out of the League Cup by Oxford United at Kassam Stadium.

Paul Groves’s men, held by the League Two outfit for 120 minutes, were eliminated at the first hurdle after Marc Pugh saw his strike saved by goalkeeper Ryan Clarke.

Tom Craddock, Deane Smalley, Sean Rigg, Adam Chapman and Damian Batt were all successful from the spot, while Charlie Daniels, Donal McDermott and Lewis Grabban also converted.

Beaten on penalties in the League One play-off semi-final by Huddersfield 17 months ago, Cherries have now reached the second round of the competition only once in the past seven seasons.

Groves’s first starting line-up as permanent boss included a couple of surprises, although the manager’s hands were dictated somewhat by player availability.

Stephane Zubar got the nod in central defence ahead of Steve Cook, while Joe Partington , who made only one start last season, partnered Harry Arter in the middle of the park.

Groves had no fewer than 12 players out due to injury or a lack of match fitness, while Eunan O’Kane was on international duty and Jon Meades was still awaiting international clearance.

Injury to Darryl Flahavan left the goalkeeping conundrum on the boil, with Shwan Jalal handed the green jersey. Miles Addison wore the captain’s armband.

Cherries went close to drawing first blood when Wes Thomas headed narrowly wide at the near post following a Pugh free-kick inside the opening three minutes.

Pugh then saw his venomous strike saved by Clarke before the Cherries winger was again denied by the Oxford goalkeeper who smothered two close-range efforts.

Referee Darren Drysdale, who upset the locals by turning down a succession of free-kick appeals in the early stages, also caused a stir when he booked Michael Raynes for a tackle on Matt Tubbs.

Zubar received an accidental kick to a delicate area from Rigg after the United winger had attempted to take aim just inside the 18-yard box.

Batt fashioned the hosts’ first shooting chance midway through the first half, although Jalal, diving to his right, saved fairly comfortably.

The two teams traded headed chances towards the end of the opening period, with Raynes nodding a Chapman corner over the crossbar before Grabban’s unopposed effort at the other end failed to trouble Clarke.

Rigg carved out a shooting opportunity after getting the bet ter of Simon Francis, although Jalal watched his drive sail high over the crossbar.

Jalal, however, had to be at his imperious best to prevent Oxford from taking the lead on the stroke of half-time, his excellent double save maintaining parity.

Firstly, he threw himself to his right to push away Chapman’s thunderous drive before repeating the feat after Rigg had seized on the loose ball and let fly from a tight angle.

Pugh worked an opening at the start of the second half, his low drive cannoning off defender Raynes and flying past the upright.

A header from Tubbs looped over the crossbar before Thomas paid for taking too long to get a shot off, the striker’s shot blocked after he had been picked out by Pugh’s clever pass.

Steven Gregory replaced Tubbs in the 61st minute, with a positional switch seeing Grabban pushed up front to partner Thomas.

Cherries had a loud appeal for a penalty waved away after Pugh had gone to ground under a challenge from Jake Wright, the winger having good reason to be furious with referee Drysdale.

Oxford’s shout for a spot-kick also fell on deaf ears after substitute Deane Smalley had taken a tumble following a brush with Charlie Daniels.

Thomas wriggled free of his marker and fired wide of the post before Partington was caught by a Chapman tackle, which angered Cherries but cut no ice with referee Drysdale.

Although Pugh’s neat footwork fooled his marker, his resultant shot failed to test Clarke as it soared over the crossbar with five minutes remaining.

And as the clocked ticked towards the 90th minute, Chapman’s ferocious free-kick was pushed over the top by Jalal.

Both teams went close to breaking the deadlock during the first period of extra-time, Thomas denied by Clarke at the far post and Tony Craddock missing the target with the goal at his mercy. The second period failed to separate the teams and the tie was decided on penalties.