CHRIS Wilder rued a missed opportunity as Oxford United were unable to make the most of a lead in a 1-1 draw at home to Rochdale.

James Constable had given the hosts a half-time lead, boosting hopes of a fourth win in five games.

But the U’s boss felt ultimately it was a fair result due to the sloppy start his side made to the second half, when the visitors equalised.

It preserved their unbeaten start to the season, but a week after drawing at home to Wycombe Wanderers another stalemate came as a frustration.

Wilder said: “The attitude is there. I still think there is loads to come from this group of players.

“They have talked about it in the changing room saying we’re five unbeaten, but let’s not go down that road – we have had two home games that we should have won and they know that more than anyone.”

The United manager did feel Rochdale, who kept the ball better than most in the division, deserved credit.

He said: “I think we’ve come across a decent side and I’ll be very surprised if they are not in and around it.

“I’m not trying to deflect from us because we do feel we should have won.

“Keith (Hill, Rochdale’s manager) will possibly think they should have won it, so maybe a draw was the right result.”

Wilder was most irritated by the five minutes immediately after the break.

United wasted a good chance to make it 2-0 when Alfie Potter was unable to take advantage of a two-on-one break and Dale quickly equalised.

“When you win it back, your pass out has to be good – and it wasn’t from Alfie, from Whingy (Andy Whing) and two or three others,” Wilder said.

“It turned over possession straight away and gave them an opportunity to go back at us.” United’s pre-match preparations were not helped by a sickness bug which limited Dave Kitson’s involvement.

They were also without top scorer Deane Smalley, whose hamstring injury is taking longer to recover from a tight hamstring than expected.

Wilder, who is not expecting any transfer activity before the window shuts tonight, said: “Deane wasn’t close and was ruled out on Friday – that was a blow.

“He wasn’t right and it’s no good taking a risk.

“It’s in the hands of the physio and the sports science guys.

“They said if he missed last Saturday he would be OK for this weekend.

“But you test him and do the right things during the week and he didn’t make it, so you don’t pick him.”