Chris Wilder says that it is up to Jon-Paul Pittman to prove he should stay at Oxford United for the long-term.

The winger scored his first goal for the U’s in the 1-1 draw against Crawley, where he has spent most of this season on loan.

However, a last-minute equaliser by Tyrone Barnett denied United victory against the table-toppers.

Wilder said that he and the Oxford players were “desperately disappointed” not to take all three points, but was buoyed by the contribution of Pittman, who scored only five minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Pittman was loaned out to Crawley just six weeks into the season, but is back in the picture at United, and Wilder says that the ball is now in his court.

“People might say the goal was fortunate, but JP has made it happen by showing some determination and desire to chase it down,” Wilder said.

“It was no mean finish as well from a tight angle.

“As to the future, it’s all here for him – go and work hard, do what you’re good at, be a nuisance.

“If he does that, he is an asset to us and that is why we have brought him here.”

United’s boss said it was a downbeat changing room afterwards.

“We are all desperately disappointed,” he admitted. “But then that might be a good thing because we are disappointed at not having beaten the leaders.

“I thought second half we defended magnificently.”

Crawley boss Steve Evans said: “We were by far the better side.

“Some of Oxford’s defending was heroic.”