OXFORD United’s unhappy Christmas continued as they lost at Bradford City despite giving the hosts some nervy moments late on.

A dreadful start for the visitors saw them fall behind to Charlie Wyke’s tap-in and lose Joe Rothwell to injury.

Just a week on from the 7-0 defeat against Wigan Athletic, the U’s had to ride their luck to stay in the game as the Bantams created a host of chances before the break.

Somehow United clung on and drew level through Canice Carroll’s header early in the second half.

But parity was brief and Bradford appeared to have the points wrapped up when Shay McCartan and Timothee Dieng made it 3-1.

United though deserve some credit for the way they kept plugging away and Jon Obika pulled a goal back 15 minutes from time.

It made for a nervy finish for the home side, but the visitors could not forge a clear chance to equalise, despite Wyke being sent off in stoppage time.

Clotet named the same XI which started the Boxing Day draw at Gillingham, with Agon Mehmeti named in the squad for the first time in three months, replacing Xemi.

City went into the game under some pressure after losing back-to-back games over Christmas, but they got off to a perfect start.

The visitors appeared to get a fortunate break in the opening minute when Aaron Martin dived in on Paul Taylor in the box.

While City’s big crowd howled for a penalty, referee Eddie Ilderton gave a corner – but there United’s luck ran out.

Although McCartan’s near-post header was kept out, the ball fell for Wyke and the Bantams’ top scorer smashed in his 12th goal of the season from close range.

It was a disastrous opening for a United side already low on confidence.

Obika twice came close with efforts which flew just the wrong side of the post, but the visitors’ start took another turn for the worse in the tenth minute.

Rothwell went down off the ball with what looked like a groin injury and had to be replaced by James Henry.

The playing surface at Valley Parade had passed a pitch inspection in the morning, but rain at lunchtime made the heavy surface a challenge.

It did not appear to worry Bradford, though, and it felt like the home side created chances almost every time they attacked.

Wyke headed a chance on to the top of the crossbar from the excellent Tyrell Robinson’s cross, while Eastwood denied Taylor’s vicious 20-yard effort midway through the half.

United were riding their luck and a spell of pinball in the box just before the half-hour mark saw Dieng’s shot cleared off the line by Henry.

Robinson’s shot on the rebound was deflected wide for a corner, from which Eastwood denied Matthew Kilgallon.

The U’s goalkeeper had endured a tough loan spell at Bradford earlier in his career, but while his clean sheet had gone, he impressed to keep the visitors in the game before the break.

Wyke, Taylor and McCartan were all thwarted by Eastwood when they looked certain to stretch the lead.

United should have been out of the game, but they did have some joy going forward.

Josh Ruffels’s sweetly-struck effort from 25 yards was kept out by Rouven Sattelmaier, who also had to watch an in-swinging cross from Canice Carroll which almost snuck in at the far post.

The goalkeeper’s best save of the lot came in the final minute of the half, when he denied Wes Thomas in the box from Ryan Ledson’s pass.

It showed despite the balance of the game, the lead was vulnerable – and incredibly United were level five minutes into the second half.

Gino van Kessel forced a corner, from which Carroll glanced Ricardinho’s corner into the far corner of the net.

United were jubilant, but within nine minutes they were 3-1 down.

First, McCartan turned away from Ruffels and picked out the far corner of Eastwood’s net from 20 yards.

City quickly ensured they had breathing space for the first time, when an unmarked Dieng headed in from close range after Robinson had proved too quick for Henry.

Sattelmaier denied Van Kessel twice in quick succession as United looked in vain for a way back into the game.

With another game on Monday, City looked content to ease back on the throttle.

But United reignited the contest 15 minutes from time, when Henry got the better of Luke Hendrie and cut the ball back for Obika to make it 3-2.

Suddenly Valley Parade went quiet and the anxiety rose in stoppage-time when Wyke was red carded for a high challenge on Carroll.

There were still two minutes left, but Bradford scrapped their way to the final whistle to secure the points.

Bradford C (4-3-1-2): Sattelmaier, Hendrie, Kilgallon, Knight-Percival, Robinson, Vincelot, Dieng, Law, McCartan (Gillead 71), Taylor (Patrick 78), Wyke.

Unused subs: Raeder, Thompson, Field, Hanson, Gibson.

Booked: None.

Sent off: Wyke.

Oxford Utd (4-4-2): Eastwood, Carroll, Martin, Mousinho, Ricardinho, Van Kessel (Payne 74), Ledson, Ruffels, Rothwell (Henry 10), Obika, Thomas (Mehmeti 71).

Unused subs: Shearer, Tiendalli, Williamson, Mowatt.

Booked: Carroll, Mousinho.

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).

Attendance: 19,691 (404 visitors).