Ryan Clarke described the climax to Oxford United’s game at Morecambe as “soul-destroying”, when they were denied what would have been a precious victory.

The home side scrambled a corner over the line in injury time to cancel out David Connolly’s strike and earn a 1-1 draw in Lancashire.

It was a big blow for United on a weekend where only two sides who began in the top half recorded maximum points.

A win would have taken Mickey Lewis’s side to within a point of leaders Chesterfield, but instead they dropped one place to fourth.

Clarke was bitterly disappointed not to close out the game.

The goalkeeper said: “We didn’t see the game out, we didn’t defend a set-piece at the end.

“It was a bit unlucky with the way it’s gone in at the back stick, but maybe we could’ve done a bit better before that.

“I don’t know what happened with the goal, I couldn’t see. It was whipped in and somebody got a touch on it.

“Apart from that we defended everything pretty well, so it’s soul-destroying, especially with the way the other results have gone.”

He added: “People will probably say with the team we had out and the injuries it was a good point, but we are still really disappointed we didn’t take all three.”

United defended well for long spells, but in the closing stages they came under increasing pressure.

There was always a chance Morecambe would force an opening, but Clarke felt there had been opportunities at the other end to give the away side more of a cushion.

He said: “That’s going to happen in the last five or ten minutes. “They were putting us under pressure, but maybe we should’ve been 2-0 or 3-0 up and that would’ve been a consolation goal.

“It’s gutting how it’s come about in the last minute.”

One big positive to come out of the game was the performance of Sam Long.

The teenager made his first senior start and Clarke, who had a good view of the display, was impressed.

“Sam was immense,” he said. “He didn’t put a foot wrong and had a great debut.

“He looked like he had played 100 league games.

“He deserves it, he trains well and his decision-making was great.

“Hopefully, it’s the start of a good career for him, because he works very hard day-in, day-out and if he’s needed next week I’m sure he will be fine to step in again.”