JACK Payne admitted Oxford United could easily have lost at Rochdale without their new-found resilient streak.

A goalless draw against a side who slipped into the Sky Bet League One relegation zone might have looked a poor result from afar, but those at Spotland will have seen it differently.

The bumpy surface was further compromised by the freezing temperature, leading to a patchy contest which suited Dale more than United.

Pep Clotet’s side have buckled when under similar pressure earlier in the campaign, but they have proved a tougher nut to crack during a four-game unbeaten run.

Payne said: “I was thinking it was the sort of scrappy game where in the past we might not have been up for it as much as we were here.

“We’ve done the nitty gritty and battled with them.

“We were up for it as much as them and proved we can do the other side of the game.

“I think that kind of game was always going to be scrappy, and at the end of the day we’re happy with a point."

Not for the first time this season, the Huddersfield Town loanee came in for special attention from the opposition.

Oliver Rathbone followed Payne all over the pitch, which largely nullified his impact.

He said: “It was hard. I swapped with Alex Mowatt a couple of times to try to mix it up and cause them problems, but they stuck with us.

“I spoke to their lad after the game and he said he was told to do what he could to man-mark me.

“They’re at home so I’m sure he’d rather play himself, so it is a compliment to us.

“It just shows how well we’re doing and how far we’ve come.”