CHRIS Wilder admitted Oxford United were now “massive outsiders” to make the play-offs after they lost 2-0 to Southend United on Saturday.
The disappointing defeat at the Kassam Stadium means United now need to win at Port Vale next weekend and hope Crewe lose at home to Aldershot if the U’s are to claim the final play-off spot on the final day of the season.
Wilder said: “Stranger things have happened, the pressure is on Crewe now, maybe it really has gone off us now and we’re massive outsiders to get in.
“We’ve got to dust ourselves down and try to get a result at Port Vale, but certainly results over the last five or six games show we’re just not quite good enough at the moment.”
The U’s boss said Connor Ripley should not be blamed for the result.
The young goalkeeper was at fault for the Shrimpers’ opening goal, when he allowed a Ryan Hall free-kick, which was aimed straight at him, to pass into the net.
The 19-year-old was thrust into the high pressure game as an emergency loan after Wayne Brown joined U’s No 1 Ryan Clarke in the treatment room on Friday.
Ripley was signed from Middlesbrough less than 24 hours before the game and only met his new teammates less than four hours before kick-off.
Wilder said: “It’s just one of those things where he’s come into the biggest game of the season after sitting on a train for five and a half hours and we’re expecting him to pull off saves left, right and centre.
“There’s no blame attached to him at all, it was a difficult situation.”
Wilder admitted his side had been well beaten by Southend, but felt the lack of confidence from his side’s winless run, which now stands at six matches, was key to the decisive spell.
He said: “I just think after what’s happened with us when you concede a goal like that, which is a save you’d expect the goalkeeper to make, it really knocked us back and gave them a massive lift.
“If we had got to half-time with it just being 1-0 I’d have been pretty confident we’d have got something out of the game.
“But the second goal put us right on the back foot.”