MATTY Taylor feels Oxford United’s defeat at Bolton Wanderers will serve them well going forward.

The No 9 opened his account for 2021/22 after 11 minutes, but goals from Dapo Afolayan and Eoin Doyle either side of half-time condemned the U’s to their first defeat of the season.

It had been a difficult build-up for United, with a member of their fitness staff testing positive for Covid on Friday and injuries to key players forcing a change of formation to a 4-4-2 diamond.

The verdict: Oxford United thrilled and frustrated us at Bolton

The U’s adapted well to an unfamiliar system and should have added to Taylor’s goal, but the striker preferred to look on the bright side following a thrilling game.

“It was a pleasure to play in – I thought we linked really well,” the 31-year-old said.

“We didn’t have long to work on it, we mainly did it by video and a little bit on the training ground.

“We’ve got countless injuries and that’s the way we felt we could win the game, and we probably should have.

“We’re kicking ourselves, but we didn’t play anywhere near as well as that on Tuesday night (against Crewe Alexandra) and won the game.

“If we play like that more then we’ll get a lot more points on the board.”

Taylor is used to being deployed as a lone striker in Karl Robinson’s favoured 4-3-3 formation.

But the forward partnered Sam Winnall up front at the University of Bolton Stadium, with Gavin Whyte playing just behind.

Read also: Karl Robinson and Matty Taylor reflect on two different games

Winnall assisted Taylor’s goal with a pass in behind the defence and the scorer revealed it was easy to establish a relationship.

He said: “We’re all intelligent players, so you go off each other’s movement.

“Talking helps massively, if you have one (going) short and one in behind there’s a bit of cohesion.

“We were so close together, you can play one touch around the corners.

“When we play one up front the wingers roll inside and the No 8 is closer to you.

“It’s slightly different, there’s a bit more onus on the No 9 to get in the box with our normal formation.

“I thought it worked really well, so did the boys, and it’s nice to add another string to our bow.

“It proves we can play another formation and if we need to use it then we can.”

United switched to a back three during their previous two Sky Bet League One games, with injuries already forcing the squad to be flexible.

For all its attacking intent the latest change in formation allowed space for Bolton to attack down the flanks, but Robinson saw it as a useful learning curve.

The U’s head coach said: “We leave a better team.

“I now know we can play five at the back and we can play a diamond.

“I’m really pleased for Matty and Sam, I thought it worked with Gavin off them.

“If we were ever going to get hurt it was going to be with the full backs, we knew we were going to be exposed.

“But on the turnover every time we won the ball back and did things right I thought we were going to score.”

Robinson added: “It has put so many things in my head that I really want to work on and I’m really looking forward to it.”