MICHAEL Appleton felt Oxford United’s narrow defeat against Bradford City explained the difference between the two teams’ league position.
The Bantams can now almost certainly start planning for a place in the Sky Bet League One play-offs after claiming a 1-0 win.
Nicky Law was on hand to score from close range after Charlie Wyke nodded down a cross on the hour mark.
It was the only blemish on a fine defensive display from United, who created enough going forward to take at least a draw.
But Appleton admitted the reasons his side are now 15 points behind City were on show at Valley Parade.
He said: “I thought we were the better team if I’m being honest.
“Their goalkeeper had to make a lot more saves than Easty (Simon Eastwood).
“Apart from a couple of flashes across the box and the goal I don’t remember them having too many chances.
“It was up there in terms of our away performances, but when those big moments come in games we’ve got to make sure they take them.
“We’ve done all right.
“We still lack the cutting edge you need to get out of the division, but that’s the reason we are where we are.”
The goal was created by Wyke, a tall forward who joined in January from Carlisle United.
He was well marshalled by United’s defence, but still found a way to make an impact and Appleton was left to ponder whether a similar type of player could be the missing piece of the jigsaw for next season.
“It’s just that little bit of something (United are lacking),” he said.
“Is that a big target man? Who knows.
“We had Tays (Ryan Taylor), but he isn’t a big target man, or not the type we’ve come up against here.
“We’ve played against (Bolton’s) Gary Madine, (Tom) Elliott at Wimbledon and James Hanson who’s at Sheffield United.
“It’s certainly something we have to look at – is that what we have to bring into the building just to give us something different?
“It’s food for thought going forward.”