OXFORD United’s bad week worsened as defensive deficiencies saw them crash to a costly defeat at Accrington Stanley.

The visitors created plenty of chances around the hosts’ box and had several spells where they dominated.

But they were always chasing the game from the moment Billy Kee was allowed to head in unmarked in the 36th minute.

Sean McConville doubled the lead and while Luke Garbutt quickly got the U’s back into the game, they promptly conceded a sloppy goal to Jordan Clark.

John Mousinho’s 89th-minute header gave the 311 travelling fans hope which was quickly dashed when Luke Armstrong made it 4-2 in stoppage time.

A second defeat in three days, sandwiched by further financial trouble off the field, kept the side in the doldrums.

They slipped a place deeper into the relegation zone ahead of Saturday’s trip to Blackpool.

U’s boss Karl Robinson’s response to Saturday’s defeat against Peterborough United was to freshen the side up with four changes.

Ahmed Kashi was due to start but came down with an illness, so Mark Sykes came in for his first start.

Samir Carruthers was also promoted from the bench, alongside Marcus Browne and Jamie Mackie.

Sykes looked bright early on, launching a counter-attack in the third minute which ended with Browne having a shot saved.

United made most of the early running and Browne had another shooting chance after excellent work from Mackie, this time firing over from the edge of the box.

Jamie Hanson also shot off target, this time from a cheeky Jordan Graham cross.

Stanley took time to warm to their task, but Kee’s shot over from Callum Johnson’s cross was the cue for the hosts to dominate the final 15 minutes of the half.

Paul Smyth had a glorious chance after a classy turn and pass from inside his own half by Dan Barlaser set the striker clear, but Simon Eastwood stood tall to block.

A minute later Smyth had another shooting chance, this time flashing the bouncing ball off target from an acute angle.

The warning signs were there, but United did not heed them and fell behind nine minutes before the break.

Sean McConville curled in a free-kick which found Kee all alone to head in his 12th goal of the season.

It was not quite the horror show which saw United’s entire defence fall asleep to concede the winner against Peterborough, but the manner of the goal just three days later was alarming.

Carruthers forced Maxted to parry his effort from the edge of the penalty area as United went in search of a quick equaliser.

But their problems quickly mounted as Cameron Brannagan picked up his tenth booking of the league season, triggering a two-game ban.

And a torrid spell nearly got even worse in first-half stoppage time. Hanson lost his bearings on a Clark cross which allowed McConville a free header, which hit the inside of Eastwood’s left-hand post and fell into the relieved goalkeeper’s arms.

United needed a response and began the second half with an intensity which rocked Stanley back.

Three chances came in as many minutes, but after Carruthers had a shot blocked, Browne and Mackie headed off target.

But after failing to land a telling blow, United were floored just before the hour mark when McConville backed Hanson into the box and fired a low shot into the far corner.

It looked desperate for the U’s, but six minutes later they were given hope.

Garbutt, who was only in the squad due to Kashi’s illness, headed in Sykes’s cross just after coming on.

Again the visitors had a spell which left Stanley scrambling, their best chance coming after another Sykes charge forward, but from Graham’s cutback Mackie had a shot blocked on the line.

But their momentum was killed by another soft goal, with Clark turning in Smyth’s cross into the six-yard box.

There were almost 20 minutes still to play and United never stopped looking for a way back into the game.

It came via Mousinho, who looped a header into the net in the 89th minute.

That set up a grandstand finish, but Stanley sealed the points in stoppage-time through Armstrong to leave United in the mire.

Accrington Stan (4-4-2): Maxted, Johnson, Hughes, Richards-Everton, Donacien, Clark, Brown, Barlaser, McConville (Gibson 83), Kee, Smyth (Armstrong 85).

Unused subs: Evtimov, Zanzala, Rodgers, Perritt, Conneely.

Booked: Richards-Everton, McConville.

Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Eastwood, Hanson, Nelson, Mousinho, Ruffels, Brannagan, Sykes, Carruthers (Henry 59), Browne (Garbutt 59), Mackie (Sinclair 78), Graham.

Unused subs: Stevens, Long, Dickie, Smith.

Booked: Brannagan.

Referee: Christopher Sarginson (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 2,095 (311 visitors).