OXFORD United were beaten 2-1 at Sky Bet League One leaders Portsmouth, as the U’s put in a much-improved display.

United trailed after two minutes though, when Callum Lang’s strike squirmed past Jamie Cumming, however Cameron Brannagan equalised from the penalty spot just four minutes later.

Mark Harris and Josh Murphy both saw shots crash against the post for the U’s, who fell behind again when Christian Saydee charged through on goal.

Here, we looked at some of the key talking points from the game.

Read our match report here

Tyler Burey’s continued absence

The 23-year-old winger hasn’t played for United since being taken off at half-time in the draw at Blackpool.

Burey was then an unused substitute for the win against Wigan Athletic, but has since missed out on the last four matchday squads.

U’s head coach Des Buckingham maintains there has been no rift between himself and the player, and that Burey’s absence is more so to do with other players currently being above him in the pecking order.

Rumours of an attitude problem have been regularly downplayed, although the Pompey clash offered an opportunity for Burey to fight his way back into the squad.

With Tyler Goodrham ruled out due to a calf problem, Owen Dale stepped into the starting XI, however Burey wasn’t then selected to be on the bench.

It left United without a natural winger, or any sign of pace, from the bench.

Billy Bodin, James Henry and Will Goodwin were Buckingham’s attacking options, and it’s fair to say that despite their qualities, none of them offer speed down the flanks.

It looks like Goodrham will miss next weekend’s home game against Cheltenham Town, and it could be telling if Burey is once again left out for that one.

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Performances from the wingers

Despite there being no Burey, there was still plenty to get excited about from the U’s wide options.

On the left, Josh Murphy once again put in a man of the match display, while Dale looked like he had a point to prove against his former loan team on the other flank.

It meant Burey was hardly missed by United, as neither Dale nor Murphy were likely to be sacrificed.

Both players must now take their performances against Portsmouth into next weekend.

Strength from full back

Fin Stevens returned from injury and made his first start since the reverse clash with Pompey at the end of January.

The Brentford loanee replaced Sam Long, who has been on the harsh end of criticism recently.

Long has no doubt been struggling, and his play has included a couple of costly mistakes, however some of the criticism directed at him has overstepped the mark.

Stevens formed a strong partnership with Dale down the right-hand side, although the right back battle is one yet to be won by either Long or Stevens this season, with the former offering more defensively, plus versatility, while Stevens tends to provide an extra attacking threat.

Captain fantastic

Elliott Moore had been missed at the heart of the U’s backline in the previous three games.

However, his return from a hip problem was a most welcome one. United’s skipper provides a calmness in the defence, and plenty of quality too.

That was shown when the 26-year-old made a brilliant tackle to take the ball off the toe of Paddy Lane in the penalty box.

If Moore mistimed the challenge, he would’ve given referee Ben Toner little option but to point to the penalty spot and show him a card.

Fortunately, Moore knew exactly what he was doing and got the tackle spot on.