A furious Chris Wilder tore into his Oxford United players, and admitted they were lucky to lose only 2-0 against Scunthorpe United.
The U’s have won plenty of plaudits for their resilient streak, which had taken them top of Sky Bet League Two, but it deserted them in a woeful display yesterday, which began badly and only got worse.
Deon Burton was allowed to head in the opener unmarked, and although the striker had a penalty saved before the break and missed a one-on-one in the second half, the Iron still cruised to victory.
David Syers doubled the lead and an awful afternoon for the hosts was completed when Deane Smalley had a penalty saved late on.
Wilder pulled no punches in his assessment.
“We didn’t deserve anything from the game. It was by far and away our poorest performance this season,” the United manager said.
Scunthorpe striker David Syers races through to lob stranded United goalkeeper Ryan Clarke
“We’ve escaped, to be fair – I think they deserved to win by a couple more at least.
“If the (Smalley) penalty had gone in and we had got something out of the game it would have been an absolute travesty, because we were second best all afternoon.
“We made poor decisions, gifted their goal with a poor clearance – and the second one was another mistake.
“They played like the home side, we made poor decisions in every part of the game.”
The defeat rounded off a bad few days for United, who lost 3-2 at home to Plymouth Argyle on Boxing Day.
It was the first time they have lost successive league games since April and dropped to fifth as a result – their lowest position of the season.
Wilder was particularly concerned by the lack of spirit, which has been a feature of the campaign to date.
He said: “Mentally we looked, especially in the last 15 minutes, really sorry for ourselves, which is not like us.”