THE pressure on struggling Oxford United increased after another defeat in a game where they simply should have taken at least a point.

AFC Wimbledon created precious little, but despite having just three shots all afternoon it was enough to beat Karl Robinson’s side.

Scott Wagstaff headed the hosts in front, before Joe Pigott capitalised on a John Mousinho error to double the lead just after the half-hour mark.

Cameron Brannagan, who had been denied an early goal by a superb save, halved the deficit just before the break.

And Wimbledon were pushed back after the break as the visitors built up a head of steam, but crucially goalkeeper Joe McDonnell was not stretched.

It added up to another game where United had more shots and more corners than their opponents, but came away empty-handed.

A seventh league defeat before the end of September left them second bottom in the table ahead of Tuesday’s home game with Luton Town.

Mousinho and James Henry returned to the side after being rested against Manchester City in midweek. Shandon Baptiste, struggling with fatigue, and Rob Dickie made way.

United travelled to Kingsmeadow still waiting for their first away win of the season in Sky Bet League One and they came so close to a dream start.

Gavin Whyte advanced down the right and although his cutback was not intended for Brannagan, he took it on first-time with a shot from the edge of the box which McDonnell did superbly to tip the ball over.

The Dons goalkeeper then had a largely quiet half as United’s attacking issues which had plagued them this season returned.

They had no shortage of corners or possession in the hosts’ half, but turning that into chances was a real struggle. Countless crosses were launched into the box, but it was meat and drink for the big centre halves Rod McDonald and Deji Oshilaja.

Wimbledon were similarly low on confidence without a home win all season and had hardly threatened either, but they scored with their first two shots of the game.

The opener came completely out of the blue in the 20th minute. United’s back four were disorganised for a moment, which was enough to give Andy Barcham space to measure a cross which was flicked on by Pigott for Wagstaff to nod in.

Jonathan Mitchell was beaten again 12 minutes later. A long ball forward did not look threatening, but Mousinho appeared to get his right boot caught in the turf, allowing Pigott to pounce and drive a low shot into the net from 20 yards.

United were rocking, but cleared their heads late in the half to build up a head of steam.

On the stroke of half-time the visitors got the break they desperately needed. Mousinho was involved and squared for Brannagan, who exchanged passes with Obika and lashed in his first career goal.

It will have lifted the mood in the away dressing room at half-time and United emerged to take control of the game in the second half.

A quick throw from Ricky Holmes saw Henry jink into the box, but his dribble was halted by Oshilaja’s last-ditch tackle. The ball fell to Holmes, who blazed over from 12 yards.

While United lost Jamie Hanson to an injury, Baptiste added energy and invention from the bench to keep the visitors on top.

Whyte fired one shot wide and another over, but at least he was pulling the trigger – Obika and Henry passed up shooting opportunities trying to over-play, allowing Wimbledon time to snuff out the danger.

United pushed hard late on, Mitchell even going up for a couple of corners in stoppage-time, but they did not carve out a clear chance as Wimbledon held firm to claim the three points.

AFC Wimbledon (4-4-2): McDonnell, Watson (Nightingale 81), Oshilaja, McDonald, Purrington, Wagstaff, Soares, Trotter, Barcham (Wordsworth 68), Pigott (Appiah 68), Jervis.

Unused subs: King, Hartigan, Pinnock, Garratt.

Booked: Barcham, Purrington.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): Mitchell, Long, Nelson, Mousinho, Garbutt, Brannagan, Hanson (Baptiste 56), Whyte (Smith 80), Henry, Holmes, Obika (Mackie 70).

Unused subs: Shearer, McMahon, Dickie, Ruffels.

Booked: Long.

Referee: Robert Lewis (Shropshire).

Attendance: 4,068 (618 visitors).