IT IS always said the pain of defeat lasts far longer than the elation of victory.

So perhaps it was no surprise that after his best few days as Oxford United head coach, Karl Robinson’s mind wandered to the two toughest moments of his tenure.

Both have particular relevance to this week and show just how much things have changed.

A run of 16 goals without conceding across five matches, including a victory over Premier League opposition, has transformed the mood ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Accrington Stanley.

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It is a year on from the moment Robinson regards as his worst in almost a decade of management.

A stoppage-time defeat at home to Luton Town on October 2 left United second bottom of the Sky Bet League One table.

It piled the pressure on the head coach, who recalled the moment unprompted during the aftermath of last weekend’s fine 3-0 victory over Gillingham.

“It was a moment in my career that I didn’t know which way to turn,” he said.

“I was struggling, I was speaking to the staff afterwards and said ‘we’ve got to make sure we stick together’.

“I didn’t have a go at my players that night, we took the criticism on the chin.

“They are days you don’t forget.”

Since then United have played 46 league games – enough for a regular season – and collected 70 points.

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That means they have had the form of a play-off challenger for 12 months.

While the margin for error is smaller when you are chasing a top-six spot compared to avoiding relegation, Robinson feels his task now is far more straightforward.

He said: “Maybe I took my foot off the pedal a little bit and maybe I got a bit lazy in some of the demands I put on the players.

“But the players are putting so many demands on themselves right now, this is one of the easiest times I’ve had.

“Every now and then they need small reminders, but the players are motivating themselves.

“They make my job an awful lot easier.”

When it comes to tough moments last season, arriving at Accrington tomorrow will bring back some bad memories.

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A 4-2 defeat at the Crown Ground in February is not far behind the Luton loss in terms of low points.

But just over six months on, Robinson believes United are far better equipped to meet the challenge this time around.

He said: “We went there last season with an extremely talented team playing with two flamboyant wingers in Jordan Graham and Marcus Browne.

“We were loose in our play and deservedly got beat.

“There are so many aspects of our game we need to get better with.

“You have to go there and roll your sleeves up.

“You can’t go there, sit back and expect your talent to override it.

“If you’re not willing to stand up and match their efforts, you’re never going to get a point at Accrington.”