PEP Clotet took consolation from the way Oxford United dealt with a dreadful start which left them with a mountain to climb against Blackburn Rovers.

The visitors exploited a sloppy opening to all-but make the points safe with a 3-0 lead after just 22 minutes.

At that stage it looked like the U’s would be humiliated by the best side they have faced in Sky Bet League One this season.

And although they were unable to pull off a miracle to take anything from the game, Clotet salvaged some encouraging aspects from a 4-2 defeat.

He said: “In football you always have to start on top of your game, but we were playing against a very strong team and they took the bad start we had and capitalised.

“Then the game was really difficult.

“Most teams would have crumbled, but we did the opposite.

“We got a goal and in the second half we gave them a game, but it’s a bad start and we’re responsible for it – simple as that.”

He added: “In the end for me the players have a lot of credit because the situation was very hard after 20 minutes.

“That was the most positive point.”

Defensive errors and a penalty decision against Dwight Tiendalli the United boss described as “a little bit harsh” allowed Rovers the 3-0 headstart.

But the first place Clotet looked for improvements was himself.

He said: “I’m critical with myself and I’ll analyse the game to see how we can make it better. But it’s about understanding as well mistakes happen.

“It’s just about raising your hand up and moving forward.”

After Jack Payne reduced the deficit just before the break, United had a spell in the second half where a goal would have set up a thrilling finish.

But instead Joe Nuttall made the most of some more indifferent defending to make it 4-1, before Jon Obika’s late effort.

The substitute, who watched the torrid opening from the bench, knows it needs to be a one-off.

He said: “You have to take some positives and the fact we didn’t fold and kept going.

“At 3-0 down you’re thinking the worst, so credit to the boys for keeping going, but we need to make sure we don’t have a 20 minutes like that again.”