PEP Clotet reckoned a 2-0 defeat was harsh on his Oxford United side and believed hosts Fleetwood Town would have taken a point until their late breakthrough.

A strong breeze at Highbury made it truly a game of two halves, with the team playing into the elements getting on top.

United seized the initiative before the break, before they came under pressure in the second half.

The visitors’ defensive diligence looked set to earn them a point, but the copybook was blotted in the 88th minute when Bobby Grant was given the freedom of the penalty are to score.

Clotet, United’s manager, said: “We are all very sad, especially the players because a result slipped away in a game where we should have at least got a point.

“It was a play out of the blue where they got that corner and they were fortunate to score.

“Fleetwood had surrendered completely to our football (in the first half) and they were defending the box.

“They would have been more than happy with a point if they hadn’t had this lucky strike.

“At the same time it shows how strong the league is.

“Last year they made the play-offs and now we’re competing against them, away from home and showing our level.”

United’s big moment to get the all-important opening goal came midway through the first half, but Town goalkeeper Alex Cairns thwarted Wes Thomas.

Clotet said: “When we missed that chance I thought ‘wow, it’s going to be one of those games which is going to be difficult’.

“We were playing well and this chance made us play even better.

“The first half we had a very high level, but it’s only about scoring goals. We had the chance and they had the goals.”

Ricardinho missed the game due to a calf problem which is not though to be serious.

It promoted the fit-again Dwight Tiendalli to make only his third appearance of the season.

Clotet said: “The best recommendation was to be cautious with Ricardinho so that tightness could go straight away.

“Dwight was very ready to step in. Even though he’s not left-footed to cover his position and I’m very happy with his attitude and what he showed for most of the game.”