Johnny Mullins was at a loss to explain Oxford United’s lethargic performance in their 1-0 defeat to Leyton Orient at the Kassam Stadium.

Jobi McAnuff struck the only goal of the game 16 minutes from time to strengthen their claim for a Sky Bet League Two play-off place.

By contrast, the U’s looked disjointed throughout and failed to register a shot on target from open play – Orient goalkeeperAlex Cisak’s only save coming via a Kemar Roofe free-kick.

Such a flat display was puzzling to Mullins, given the squad had been given two extra days off thanks to their first blank midweek since January.

The stand-in skipper said: “We just didn’t get going.

“The tempo and the energy which have stood us in good stead recently weren’t there.

“Ultimately we were playing catch-up and did not reach the heights we wanted to.

“Football has a funny way of slapping you between the eyes to give you a little reality check.”

He added: “It’s all about both boxes.

“You can take 25 passes to get there or two, but if you’re not ruthless enough in one box and not composed in the other then you’re going to pay the price.”

Plymouth Argyle’s defeat to Accrington Stanley kept the U’s second in the table, while Portsmouth also took nothing from their home game with Newport County.

But the advantage over fourth place is down to only three points, after Bristol Rovers beat Mansfield Town.

United remain in a strong position, but the main concern is their home form, with just four points from the last six league games at the Kassam.

A 4-0 win over struggling York City last month is their only league success at home in 2016 and Mullins, whose side host rock bottom Dagenham & Redbridge tomorrow night, knows the recent record is poor.

He said: “There’s no beating around the bush, it has been.

“When we do it right, no matter if it’s home or away, I feel like we’ve got too much for anyone.

“Leyton Orient have come and in their eyes have done a number on us.”