Oxford United boss Pep Clotet has called for calm heads after the U’s hit the self-destruct button in a 3-0 loss at Bury on Tuesday.
United shook things up from Saturday’s defeat to Walsall (see inside) by making three changes and going more direct – but after competing for an hour they capitulated in eight second half minutes.
Chris Maguire, Oxford’s top scorer last year, netted against his former club from the penalty spot on 64 minutes before Michael Smith (70 minutes) and Jermaine Beckford (72) condemned the U’s to a third consecutive defeat.
But Clotet, clearly unhappy with another defeat, believed it was the type of game in which whoever scored the first goal would claim the win.
He said: “It was a very even game, we competed very well, started the second half very strongly and we were closer to scoring the first goal than they were.
“But obviously the penalty changed the game because it was one of those games that the first one to score can win comfortably – and that’s happened.”
Oxford slipped five places since last week to 15th in the League One table – but Clotet has urged fans not to panic.
He said: “This is a process. There are many new faces as there weren’t many players when I arrived.
“We made a lot of efforts to put a team together. This is a process that in the long run won’t matter if we lose three games in a row – the important thing is that we are able to learn from this and get back.
“I suffer especially for the fans who came up here [to Bury]. We would just like them to keep believing and working with us.
“There will be history if we put it right.”
United did create chances but failed to get the first goal that Clotet craved.
Bury keeper Leo Fasan, making his first league start for the Shakers, denied Rob Hall, Gino van Kessel and Alex Mowatt in the first half and van Kessel and Hall fired wide after half-time.
Noticing an improvement from a blunt performance against Walsall, Clotet added: “The team showed that we can go forward and create the chances. We struggled to attack in the last game but today [Tuesday] there was creativity in the team and we did it right.
“But at the same time I’m not happy with the result.”
United travel to high-flyers Peterborough United on Saturday.