CHRIS Wilder says he fully understands supporters being unhappy with Oxford United’s league position.

But the U’s manager stressed the players and staff were hurting just as badly.

United dropped to 18th place in npower League Two following a last-gasp 2-1 defeat at Chesterfield on Saturday – their tenth loss in 18 matches.

Johnny Mullins had put the visitors in front after 60 seconds, but the Spireites levelled in first half stoppage time and netted a 91st-minute winner.

United felt the officials, who also turned down two penalty appeals, played a part in both goals for the hosts.

But Wilder acknowledged results have not been good enough, something which was deeply felt by players and staff.

“I understand people won’t be happy with the league position and if they think we are then, they don’t really understand the mentality of the staff and the players,” he said.

“We are all committed 24/7. Go and ask my family what part Oxford United play in my life and how much focus and attention it takes up. “We give it everything and we’re coming up short at the moment. It’s not happened many times, but we are as a group.”

The United boss compared the season to keeping a series of spinning plates turning.

In addition to being on the receiving end of some questionable refereeing decisions, the squad’s problems with injuries resurfaced.

Top scorer Tom Craddock will be out for between three and six weeks with a rib problem, while fellow striker Deane Smalley is missing until the new year following an operation on his groin.

Wilder, who has to regroup his squad for tomorrow night’s trip to Barnet, said: “I do still think there are a hell of a lot of things going against us. “The last two games we’ve not got (penalty) decisions and they do play a part.

“People talk about making your own luck, but I think sometimes things go against you.

“It’s a big blow to lose a player like Tommy that’s bang in form and a partnership (with James Constable) that’s looking pretty decent.

“Deane Smalley’s had an operation and will be out until mid-January, these are things that are definitely going against us.”

He added: “It’s a continual spinning of plates, but we have to hang tough and dig in. “We certainly have to affect it pretty quickly.

“It’s been a mixed bag of performances in the last three games and the results say we’ve picked up one point from nine, which is not enough to get in touch with teams at the top.”