A FRUSTRATED Chris Wilder rued a lack of magic in the final third as Oxford United were held to a goalless draw by Portsmouth at the Kassam Stadium.

The home side never looked like losing a game they largely controlled, but created precious little in front of goal.

A big crowd, swelled by almost 2,500 away fans, produced a good atmosphere but the game did not match it, with neither goalkeeper tested.

Banbury Cake:

  • Ryan Williams has a shot at goal

The result made it four games without a victory for United, their longest winless run of the season, and Wilder admitted the side was missing a spark where it mattered most.

“I’m more frustrated than disappointed because the application and effort of the players was really good, we just needed a break,” the United manager said.

“At the moment we are just looking for a little bit of magic, somebody to do something a bit special to get our noses in front.”

United set up in a different formation, using Johnny Mullins in a three-man midfield to help protect the back four.

There was some surprise when top scorer James Constable was only named on the bench, leaving Deane Smalley to play as a lone striker, supported by Ryan Williams and Sean Rigg.

Afterwards it emerged Constable, known as Beano, had been troubled by a foot injury during the week.

Banbury Cake:

  • Michael Raynes gets above Sonny Bradley

Wilder also explained he switched the shape in response to home defeats against Plymouth and Scunthorpe in their last two outings.

He said: “We wanted to go with a 4-3-3 and have a change to get something else going at home.

“We have tried a 4-4-2 for a couple of games and that’s not really come off for us.

“We tried and I thought the shape, especially in the first half, was fine.

“We have a few games coming up and it was a toss up between starting Beano and bringing Deane on, or start Deane and bring Beano on.

“Deane has trained all week and Beano hasn’t, so that was the decision I made.”

The stalemate saw United drop to seventh place, now five points adrift of the top three.

Banbury Cake:

  • Danny Rose sees a shot blocked

But Wilder took comfort from the fact it was a marked improvement on their previous game, a 2-0 home defeat against Scunthorpe United.

“It’s loads better,” he said. “That’s the way I view it, it’s not three points and maybe we have slipped a bit, but there’s still a long way to go and, as always, people think short term.

“I think we needed a decent performance because there was a bit of pressure on us and unfortunately we have not been able to get the goal that might have nicked a tight game.”