MICHAEL Appleton admitted he had never seen a game so wide open as Oxford United got off the mark with a topsy-turvy 3-3 draw at home to Dagenham & Redbridge.
It got the U’s up and running in Sky Bet League Two at the fifth attempt – and the point was enough to lift them off the bottom of the table.
But the wait for a first league win goes on, for as encouraging as some of their play was going forward, it came at the expense of exposing the defence.
It was not part of Appleton’s game plan and the head coach felt a lack of experience from his Oxford United side contributed to the pattern of the game.
He said: “I’m obviously frustrated that we’ve only taken a point from a game we’ve scored three goals in.
“It felt like a game of basketball at times, it was too open.
“I must admit I’ve never been involved in a game like it, that was a first for me with what I’ve just witnessed.
“As good as we were attacking and free-flowing at times, we were just so open as a team.
“Maybe that’s down to a little bit of youth and inexperience, I’m not too sure.
“I never want to stop the players from being positive and getting on the front foot, but we just have to make sure that come Tuesday (at Cheltenham Town) we’re a little bit more solid.”
It could have been worse for the U’s without a double from Danny Hylton, who took the hosts from 2-1 down to 3-2 up.
The striker now has five goals for the season and Appleton was delighted with his display.
“Hylts did ever so well,” he said.
“He scored two goals and probably could’ve had another four or five.
“But he’s in a good place at the moment and he’s playing very well, so hopefully that will continue.”
Daggers boss Wayne Burnett was happy to take a point.
He said: “They move the ball very nicely and they’ve got some very good players and to be honest I’m delighted we’ve managed to pick a point up.
“I think their league position is false, I think once they get going they will be up the top half of the table.
“I really do believe that because they’ve got some really good players and a good manager who wants to play the game the right way.”
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Latest United news:
2:00pm Friday 19th December 2014
BRIAN Howard’s situation at Oxford United is unclear after head coach Michael Appleton admitted he did not know whether the midfielder would be offered an extension to his short-term contract.
12:00pm Friday 19th December 2014
JOSH Ashby is good enough to play in Oxford United’s side right now, but the teenager knows his time will come, according to head coach Michael Appleton.
9:40am Friday 19th December 2014
RONNIE Moore is braced for a tough first game in charge of Hartlepool United after comparing opponents Oxford United to Real Madrid.
9:30am Friday 19th December 2014
John Campbell admits it would be difficult to keep his kit on if he was able to make an impact on debut for Oxford United tomorrow.
Interactive match preview: Appleton and Hylton on goals; Moore likens United to Real Madrid; Howard's future; Ashby; club stalwart departs + video
9:34am Friday 19th December 2014
Get ready for kick-off with our interactive preview of Oxford United's trip to Hartlepool