Karl Robinson has admitted his Oxford United side are in a relegation ‘dog fight’ after losing 3-2 at promotion hopefuls Shrewsbury Town on Monday.
The U’s twice fought back to within a goal but, despite giving it their all, suffered their ninth defeat in 13 games in all competitions at the hands of the Shrews.
It is a torrid run that includes three managers and leaves them four points and four places above the relegation zone.
And with critical games against bottom half clubs coming up, Robinson knows points are needed – and quickly.
“We know the points tally isn’t good enough and we’re in a bit of a dog fight,” he said.
“There are a lot more teams down there that are a little bit different [more threatened] but because we’re in the midst of it, it’s a little bit scary.
“I’ve said to the players that they’re in a dog fight but it is what it is, the performances are certainly there and not of a team in that position.”
The former Charlton Athletic boss admitted Oxford rode their luck against Shrewsbury but is sure his side has enough quality to remain a League One club.
Two goals from Shaun Whalley and a deflected effort from Jon Nolan earned Shrewsbury all three points.
United showed plenty of spirit and twice pulled themselves back into the game through Wes Thomas and Joe Rothwell.
But it was not enough and Robinson was left scratching his chin.
He said: “I’ve been here three games and to only get a point out of those three performances is baffling.
“A draw would have been fair [against Shrewsbury], a draw was fair the other day [against Scunthorpe] and we should have won the first one [3-0 loss at Portsmouth].”
Now, as Robinson’s search for his first win as manager continues, 17th-placed Oxford face a potentially season-defining week with three home games.
Oldham Athletic (19th) and Fleetwood Town (13th) are first up on Saturday and Tuesday respectively before the U’s welcome Southend United to the Kassam Stadium on April 14.