MOMENTS of magic could prove to be the difference this season.

And on Saturday, Oxford United were undone by just that as they lost their opening npower League Two match at Rotherham.

Lewis Grabban’s superb strike three minutes after half-time proved the difference as Chris Wilder’s side fell to defeat at the Don Valley Stadium.

Grabban latched onto a neat Danny Schofield flick to hit a shot with the outside of his right foot into the top corner, leaving goalkeeper Ryan Clarke rooted to the spot.

And frustratingly for Wilder, while his team put in the effort in a bid to get on level terms, they lacked that killer instinct.

In truth, there was little between the sides in a disappointing spectacle.

But from Oxford’s point of view, while they had plenty of possession, their final ball was lacking.

When the delivery was right, nobody was prepared to take a chance on where the cross was going.

More critically, two golden opportunites inside the opening 15 minutes were to prove costly.

First James Constable, normally so lethal from close range, headed wide when he should have done better from eight yards following a Damian Batt cross.

And then moments later, Asa Hall’s flicked header came back off a post and Michael Duberry ballooned the rebound over the bar from the same distance as Constable.

The misses were to prove costly.

Wilder opted for a 4-5-1 formation, with four of his summer signings in the starting line-up.

Duberry partnered Jake Wright in central defence, Andrew Whing played the holding role in midfield, with Liam Davis on the left and Deane Smalley right, but supporting striker Constable at every opportunity.

Playing in their new home strip, things looked bright for United with the early chances.

But having missed them, Rotherham got more into the game.

The remainder of the first half a pretty turgid affair, with neither keeper really tested.

Clarke had to make one save when Ryan Cresswell met Danny Scholfield’s corner, United’s No 1 tipping his header over the bar.

Wilder sent his side out early for the second half, but Grabban’s sublime goal put the U’s on the back foot.

Alfie Potter was sent on to try and inject some quality down the right, and following a rocky five-minute period after they fell behind, Oxford got back on the front foot.

Davis should probably have gone down in the area when he was clattered into by a home defender, but stayed on his feet.

To be fair, it was down to his honesty that the ball eventually found its way to Constable on the right, and his drilled effort was just missed by Smalley and trickled narrowly wide of the far post.

But that was as good as it got.

Peter Leven showed his quality in a late cameo role, but twice his inviting crosses were not attacked by any United player with purpose.

The former MK Dons man almost levelled when he latched onto Smalley’s quick throw-in, but his toe-poked effort went wide of the goal late on.

Clarke got down well to deny Le Fondre and then produced a top-class save when Grabban again broke clear, the keeper saving well low down with United left short in defence as they looked for an equaliser.

But it was Grabban’s goal that was the difference between the sides, and leaves Oxford’s players with plenty to ponder.

However, as Chris Wilder pointed out afterwards, this season is a marathon not a sprint.

And after watching a game played on the inside of a running track, how true his comments were.