SIMON Eastwood believes Oxford United’s promotion ambitions are effectively limited to the play-offs after they were completely outclassed by Peterborough United.

The goalkeeper felt a 4-0 defeat flattered the visitors, whose display was ridden with errors once they fell behind.

It was their heaviest loss since suffering the same fate at Barnsley 18 months ago and made all the more painful by the fact they were up against ten men for half an hour.

United slipped to tenth and while they have games in hand on most of the sides above them, the gap to the top two is now nine points.

Eastwood thought the gulf in class to an in-form Peterborough side showed that the top six, which is four points away, should be the goal.

He said: “It’s a reality check of where we actually are.

“I think at the start of the season we said realistically we’re a play-off team if we can get going.

“It’s always nice to aim for the top two, of course it is, but I think if we’re being realistic we’d take the play-offs and give it a good go there.”

The visitors went into the game with the handicap of playing a draining midweek Emirates FA Cup fourth-round replay with Newcastle United.

It went to extra time, while Peterborough’s campaign ended in the third round.

Eastwood rejected the suggestion it was a contributory factor as the U’s look ahead to a trip to Burton Albion tomorrow night.

He said: “I don’t think so, that’s just an excuse.

“We’ve got a chance to put it right on Tuesday, but I don’t think (Newcastle) would have had any effect.

“The lads are fit enough. They outplayed us, they outclassed us and they were better than us.”

The U’s No 1 did though think their cup campaigns had been a hindrance overall.

They have played five more matches away from the league than Posh, who lost 1-0 in the Carabao Cup first round at the Kassam Stadium in August.

Eastwood said: “I’ve said it many times, sometimes it’s a negative having cup runs and having loads of games here and there.

“If you look at Peterborough I think they exited the cups quite early on.

“I think they might be three or four games ahead of us and have the points already.

“We’d rather be in that position than playing catch-up.”