KARL Robinson again pointed to Oxford United's lack of power in midfield after their 2-1 home defeat to Accrington Stanley.

Elliot Lee cancelled out Paul Smyth's early strike for the visitors, who were the better side in the first half.

The U's enjoyed plenty of possession after the break, but they could not find a second goal and Michael Nottingham's 70th-minute effort proved to be the winner.

Read the match report here

It leaves United 12th in Sky Bet League One, six points shy of the play-offs, with just seven games of their season remaining.

Considering they were in the relegation zone as recently as December 5 it is not a bad return, but Robinson admitted the poor start to the season has been costly.

And the head coach knows United must have a settled squad in place to avoid a repeat at the beginning of 2021/22.

He said: “This year it may look like from the outside we’ve taken a step back, the league table will say that.

"I think we have at certain stages, but as a football club we've moved forward.

"There’s certain players we’re missing, the power in the middle of the pitch that just isn't there.

“We can’t lose players in the next window.

"I always put starting slowly down to the changing of the guard in the summer.

"It takes a while to start and then you’re playing catch-up, but then your room for error becomes so narrow moving forward it becomes a lot harder to achieve what you truly want to.”

Robinson preferred to keep many of his criticisms of United's performance against Accrington internal, but was already looking to the next campaign - and potentially one new recruit.

He said: “Hopefully we get our work done this week.

"Now it's about seeing how many points we can accumulate in between now and the end of the season.

"If we fall short it’s about where could we be better.

"I put a big responsibility down to when we lost Marcus (McGuane), our performances have been a lot more inconsistent.

"Moving forward we’ve got to get the right players in and don’t lose players.”