Oxford United made it six games without a win as their frustrating spell in front of goal continued on Saturday.

And more worryingly for Jim Smith, key players are so short of confidence that they are hardly recognisible from those who were making things happen in the early part of the season.

Again U's supporters will point to key incidents in the first half where you felt that had United scored, they would have gone on to win the game easily.

But Morecambe were good value for their point, and dominated long spells.

The visitors, who have the best away record in the Conference, kept the ball by playing short, crisp passes.

Oxford, however, could not sustain possession and frustrated the home crowd by often trying to complicate matters.

The shots on target count of six all only tells half a story, with Oxford troubling Morecambe keeper Steven Drench twice in the opening 12 minutes, and three times in the last 90 seconds.

In between, Drench was only called into action by a free-kick from loan signing Danny Rose.

Rose and Georges Santos were both handed debuts by Smith, and impressed.

Santos played two outrageous dummies inside the opening 20 seconds to immediately win over the home fans, but almost got caught trying to play his way out of defence late on.

Rose, on the other hand, started slowly - not unexpected for an 18-year-old on his first-team debut - but really asserted some authority on the game as others tired.

Rob Duffy and Yemi Odubade were fit to take their places in Oxford's starting line-up, as was skipped Phil Gilchrist, but their injury problems meant that Smith was unable to name a striker on the substitutes bench.

However, the U's started brightly and in the seventh minute, should have been in front.

Nice link-up play between Rose, Andy Burgess and Gavin Johnson saw the latter find room for a left-wing cross.

When the ball eventually came down, Duffy hit a sweet half-volley that deflected off a defender's arm and onto the bar.

The rebound fell to Odubade eight yards out, but he blasted over the bar.

It was the sort of chance Oxford have failed to take in the past month, and has cost them dear. It was the clearest opening they created all game.

With supporters still failing to understand how the U's had failed to score, Garry Hunter raced down the other end and saw keeper Billy Turley off his line.

His lob from 40 yards forced Turley to back-pedal and claw the ball away from under his bar.

Burgess tried his luck from distance in the 12th minute, but Drench saved comfortably to his left.

It was the last of United as an attacking threat in the first half.

Morecambe began to stamp their authority on the game, and Carl Pettefer and Rose were unable to stem the flow through the centre of midfield.

Oxford had a big let-off when David McNiven got between Barry Quinn and Gilchrist, but couldn't get anything on an Adam Yates cross.

Craig Stanley and McNiven also went close, and it took a flash on the scoreboard of Dagenham 1, Woking 2 to get the home fans singing. The support helped Oxford win their first corner of the game in the 43rd minute.

United started the second half brightly, but without looking like scoring.

They were dealt a blow though when Gilchrist limped off with a hamstring injury eight minutes into the second period.

Morecambe were getting winger Michael Twiss on the ball whenever possible, and he was giving Eddie Anaclet and Santos a torrid time.

Turley saved well from a Twiss shot, before the same player forced the U's keeper to parry.

When Quinn slipped 20 minutes from time, Santos did well to chest down four yards out and get the ball to safety.

Morecambe were piling on the pressure and Quinn was forced into a superb block from Jim Bentley when his shot looked destined for the net.

From the resulting corner, Turley only kept out Twiss's flag kick with a save at full-stretch.

The home fans were getting restless, with Duffy and Burgess getting the brunt of the stick.

Duffy, however, did not help his cause when he bottled out of a challenge just inside his own half.

A good break by Oxford ended when their leading scorer Duffy wanted too much time to get in a shot, and the Morecambe defence cleared the danger.

The boos rang around the stadium in the last minute when Quinn's high free-kick from half-way was gathered by Drench 16 yards out without an Oxford player near the ball.

However, in the three minutes of added time, United nearly snatched victory.

Duffy made room on the edge of the box but shot tamely straight at Drench.

The Morecambe keeper then let the ball slip from his grasp, and Odubade pounced, only to see his goalbound shot blocked by Bentley.

Johnson then tried his luck, but Drench comfortably saved his right-foot effort.

To be honest, it was all too late.