It was one moment in Oxford’s favour that made the difference on Saturday afternoon at the Kassam Stadium, and it was a tough pill to swallow for the Cumbrians who gave as good as they got, but left the building with nothing to show for their efforts.
“Unfortunately if you have a lapse in concentration, however minimal it is, you’re going to get punished, particularly the higher up you go,” manager Paul Simpson said after the game.
“We’ve only gone up one level, but we’ve been punished here for a momentary lapse where we’ve allowed the runner to go, we haven’t tracked him and we haven’t talked, and these are things you get punished for.
“It looks such a scruffy goal to concede, it’s a horrible one to give away, and I think over the game we’ve actually done a lot of good things. Like I said last week, Oxford are a good League One side, they’re a very good footballing team, and we probably should have got something out of this.
“Sadly we got absolutely nothing and I find that to be really frustrating. We’ve got to keep working as hard as we can and get ourselves going. We want to get that first three points for ourselves and hopefully that will come on Tuesday.”
Expanding more on what was a horrible goal to watch, he told us: “You simply can’t afford to make the mistakes that we did.
“It’s a case of a straight ball down the line, we didn’t track a runner, and we concede a goal. It’s a scruffy finish but the striker won’t care about that. It shouldn’t have been allowed to happen, it’s as simple as that.
“It micht have bene offside, it’s hard to say. Looking at it, it’s very close, and it could have been given. I’ve seen it given may times. I’ve watched it on a video and I can’t honestly say whether it’s offside or not.
“But, yes, it’s very, very close and it’s a key match decision that will be looked at probably hundreds of times by the officials. It doesn’t change anything, we’ve lost the game and we have to accept that.
“We could have stopped it at source, we should have tracked the runner, then we wouldn’t have had to worry whether the linesman is going to put his flag up or not.
“As for how the lad finished it, I don’t really know what he’s tried to do. I thought it was on for him to be lobbing him from the position that he was in. He’s stuck it in the back of the net and as a striker you don’t really care how they go in.
“He’s done his job, he’s won them the game, and that’s disappointing for us. On the flip side of that we’ve had good periods in the game, first half in particular, we’ve had some good control, but we’re just not troubling the goalkeeper enough.
“That’s the top and bottom of it. If you can’t do that you won’t score goals, and that’s where the frustration comes from for us at the moment.”
It was United who headed into the half time tunnel possibly feeling the better having been on top for the bulk of the 45 minutes.
“I was really pleased,” he agreed. “I thought that first 45 minutes was as well as we’ve played. Again, that’s without troubling the goalkeeper.
“We know we put them under pressure, we nicked it in good areas, we had some good transitions, but you have to be ruthless. If opportunities come you have to take them.
“I said to Gav [Skelton] in the first half that we were on top and you have to make the chances count when that’s the case. We had three really good opportunities in the first 15 minutes where you just then need that little bit of quality to finish them off better.
“We had balls into the box that were screaming to be finished off, and that’s what we haven’t quite got at the moment. We’re still looking to try and get it.
“We’ve got players who are capable of doing it within this group, they’re just not showing it at the moment. We’ve got to keep going, keep plugging away, keep working as hard as we have done so far, and things will turn for us. We just all have to stick together and keep believing.”
And part of that is managing the frustration that comes when you don’t get what you perhaps feel you deserve.
“That’s the frustration we go back to, if you make a mistake you’re going to get punished,” he insisted. “That’s what happened to us. I’m not taking anything away from Oxford because I think they’re a good football team, they have good individuals and a good style of play.
“I thought we dealt with the way they played with a plan that was working really well, maybe not as well in the second half as it was in the first. I accept that.
“We lost our way and we didn’t get the control by getting four or five passes together to try and kill them off. We huffed and puffed after the break but, as I keep saying, it wasn’t enough.
“The fact is, the higher you go up, the more you get punished for mistakes. T just hope this isn’t going to be a season where we’re talking about doing lots of good things and got nothing from it.
“We have to find a way to win games, that’s the top and bottom of it. It’s going to be tough because it’s a new level, it’s a step up for everybody, it’s a level I think we’re more than capable of coping with, but we have to get down to getting that first win.
“We’re already seeing the measure of League One, but this isn’t even the top end of it, without being disrespectful to the two teams we’ve played.
“We know we’ve got to step our levels up a little bit if we want to achieve anything at all. We’ve been punished, we got found out in one particular area and yeah, they’ve had a few other chances, but I can’t think of many saves Tomas has had to make, because we’ve defended well.
“On the flipside I can’t think of many saves that their keeper’s had to make, and that’s what we have to improve on.”