OXFORD United’s need for attacking reinforcements was evident as Brighton & Hove Albion proved too strong in a pre-season friendly at the Kassam Stadium.

Goalkeeper Simon Eastwood made several good saves to keep United in the game until the final quarter, but at the other end the hosts struggled to create chances.

The Sky Bet Championship side were worthy winners and even had the luxury of Glen Murray missing a penalty shortly after Anthony Knockaert’s opener.

United had their moments in pursuit of an equaliser, before they were blown away in the final 25 minutes.

Tom Cadman doubled the advantage after Tomer Hemed’s header hit the crossbar, and the Israel international added a clinical brace to complete the scoring.

It gave United food for thought with just one pre-season game remaining, at Barnet on Saturday.

Brighton named a strong side and they looked in the mood from the kick-off.

Their positive start was helped by United’s carelessness, as Joe Rothwell and Chris Maguire inadvertently set up chances for Beram Kayal and Sam Baldock respectively inside the first four minutes.

On both occasions Eastwood was on hand to make smart saves to keep the game goalless.

Unlike against Leicester City a week earlier, United were unable to impose themselves on the game – and the chances kept coming for the visitors from the Championship.

On 11 minutes Murray looked certain to bury a header from Liam Rosenior, but he could only glance the chance for strike partner Baldock, who skewed off target at the back post.

The deadlock was finally broken six minutes later, when Knockaert collected Jiri Skalak’s cross from the left and fired in from eight yards.

United looked to be in for a long night when referee John Busby awarded Brighton a soft penalty midway through the half.

Chey Dunkley was adjudged to have barged into Baldock in the box, but justice appeared to be done when Murray fired the spot-kick wide.

The miss seemed to stir United, whose first chance quickly arrived – and vanished – when Dan Crowley delayed his shot and was smothered by the Seagulls’ defence.

Nonetheless, the home side belatedly grew into the game before half-time.

Brighton stopper David Stockdale was called upon to make one excellent save, denying Chey Dunkley’s powerful header from Chris Maguire’s 35th-minute corner.

The opening stages of the second half were evenly-contested, although Eastwood was forced into another good stop to keep out Knockaert, who had robbed Sercombe.

United had a strong claim for a penalty when Thomas was bundled over in the box as he was about to pull the trigger, but the referee waved away the protests.

Brighton may have been briefly disorganised for that chance by eight substitutions made in one go just after the hour mark.

It did not take long to restore order and within five minutes two of the new faces had combined to double the lead.

Hemed nodded a corner against the face of the crossbar and Cadman was on hand to fire in the rebound.

Within nine minutes it was 3-0, Hemed smashing home from ten yards after Jason Molumby scampered down the right and pulled the ball back.

And the striker was not finished there, sliding in for his second and Brighton’s fourth late on to round off a difficult night for the U’s.

Oxford Utd: Eastwood, Ribeiro, Martin, Dunkley (Nelson HT), Ruffels (Long 83), Sercombe, Lundstram, Crowley (Taylor HT), Maguire (Skarz 68), Rothwell (Ashby 68), Thomas (Roberts 83).

Unused subs: Stevens.

Brighton: Stockdale (Maenpaa 71), Rosenior (Hunt 42), Saltor (Cadman 62), Dunk (Hall 62), Bong (Murphy 62), Knockaert (Collar 62), Stephens (Ince 56), Kayal (Molumby 62), Skalak (LuaLua 62), Baldock (Manu 62), Murray (Hemed 62).

Referee: John Busby (Oxfordshire).

Attendance: 2,498 (231 visitors).