Manager Paul Cox believes today’s 3-0 defeat at Oxford United will be a ‘massive learning curve’ for our players.
Despite creating more chances than the promotion-chasing hosts, goals from David Connolly, Nicky Wroe and Deane Smalley consigned us to our first away defeat since Boxing Day.
Our manager insists that we had enough chances to win three matches, and over the coming weeks it is simply a case of taking those opportunities when they arise.
“We had enough chances on and off target today to win three football matches, comfortably,” said Cox. “At this level, it’s the team that scores first that usually wins the game.
“We created some good chances, especially in the first 20 minutes. We’re not talking about ones where people create their own chances, we’re talking about ones where the keeper shouldn’t stand a chance.
“That’s the thing what is frustrating for me, because the players are working hard, they’re putting a shift in, and their learning curve in terms of keeping the ball and moving it very quickly, is paying dividends.
“It’s just the quality and difference between the two sides today was finishing.”
Our boss continued: “Oxford are in a different place to us. They’re going to be in that top three. They’re geared for promotion with the stadium and their squad of players, and they’ve got that ‘know how’.
“I’ve said to the boys that this is a massive learning curve, because [Oxford] are one of the teams as a benchmark for us.
“Although the score-line says 3-0 and it looks as though we’ve taken a bit of a tonking, I thought we were the better side for the majority of the game.
“I thought that we played some really good stuff. We passed the ball well, created some really good chances and I thought we were the better side for the majority of the game.
“Even in the second half, when we were kicking against the wind, we were camped in their half for long periods. It’s frustrating, because we just need to take one of the numerous chances that we’re creating.”
Cox added: “With the chances that we had in the first 20 minutes before they scored, we should have been out of sight. We’re not just talking about long-range efforts; we’re talking about tap-ins.
“I’d like to see how many chances they had. I don’t think it’d be more than five or six, but they put three of them away.
“You look at the quality of Connolly, (James) Constable, (Dave) Kitson and Smalley, and that was the difference [between the two teams] today.”
On injuries which James Jennings and Martin Riley suffered, our boss said: “JJ pulled his thigh muscle and I think that’s looking like quite a bad one.
“’Riles’ we’ve got to have a real look at, because there was a problem around his ankle or achilles area. [The injuries] didn’t help us, but I thought the boys that came on did really well.”