CLIMBING out of the relegation zone was a silver-lining for Oxford United’s failure to beat Barnsley, according to Josh Ruffels.

The U’s – who believe they are on the verge of finally signing a striker – moved above the dotted line on goal difference following last night’s 2-2 draw at the Kassam Stadium.

But efforts from Ruffels and Jamie Mackie had put a fired-up home side 2-0 up until the final 20 minutes.

Victory would have taken United up to 17th place, their highest position of the season, but Ruffels felt the display, coupled with getting out of the bottom four, served as a boost.

He said: “It gives you a bit of confidence that a team needs. Even though they came back into the game, it’s a massive performance from us.

Match report - Oxford Utd 2, Barnsley 2

“Everyone can be disappointed with the way it went, but it’s a draw against a top-three side, so you can’t really look at it in a bad way.”

The feisty clash kept referee Kevin Johnson busy, with both managers feeling hard done by afterwards.

Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel thought Mackie’s goal should have been disallowed for a foul on goalkeeper Adam Davies.

But the striker, who felt his effort in the first half which hit the crossbar might have crossed the line, said: “They’re probably going to complain about it, but I’ve had plenty of decisions go against me this season.

“You’ve just got to follow lost causes and sometimes you get your reward.”

Karl Robinson was more animated than Stendel in his criticism of the officials.

The U’s boss was booked late on for kicking the ball in frustration and felt several challenges on his players were dealt with leniently.

He argued Liam Lindsay should have seen red for a foul which left Gavin Whyte off the pitch, but it was not the only one which angered Robinson.

He said: “Jamie Mackie got pushed over the hoardings.

“The tackle on Jordan Graham was horrendous, Alex Mowatt’s tackle, (Cameron) McGeehan’s tackle – these are leg-breaking challenges.”

He added: “But we’ve played Portsmouth and Barnsley at home and Fleetwood away and we’ve taken five points. I’m really proud of my players.”

Robinson is hoping his month-long quest to sign a striker will finally come to an end in the next 24 hours.

While rumours linking Danny Hylton with a return were wide of the mark, a loan deal is thought to be imminent for one of Robinson’s top targets.

He said: “Tiger (chairman Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth) is probably going to pay one of the biggest salaries this club has had.”