OXFORD United suffered a body blow as their hopes of a much-needed victory vanished late on against Cheltenham Town last night.

Leading 1-0, they were pegged back in freakish fashion as an 84th-minute shot from Zack Kotwica, looped in via Jamie Cureton’s shinpad.

The veteran striker admitted afterwards he knew little about the goal, but it cost United two very valuable points.

Ryan Williams, who had opened the scoring six minutes earlier, felt it was a tough one to swallow.

He said: “When the goal went in I did feel sick to my stomach.

“I got a little bit excited with my goal because I honestly thought there was only about two minutes left.

“I thought we’d won it, but when I saw the ball go in the back of our net I really wasn’t happy.”

The result means United have not won for five games, while the sides just outside the play-offs continue to close the gap.

Caretaker boss Mickey Lewis was encouraged with the overall performance, which was an improvement from the first half in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Burton Albion, but was left cursing the manner of Cheltenham’s equaliser.

“You do need a bit of luck,” he said.

“In these last ten games we have never harped on about needing a bit of luck here and there, but I think Cheltenham had a bit of fortune with their goal.

“It hit their lad on the floor and looped up over the goalkeeper.

“That’s lucky, no doubt about it, but even after that we had chances.

“I’m frustrated, but I’m really pleased with the way we played.”

Lewis shuffled his pack, as promised, and partnered Johnny Mullins with Josh Ruffels in central midfield as Danny Rose and Nicky Wroe dropped to the bench.

The U’s boss said: “Nicky Wroe started really well, but hasn’t done so well in the last couple of games.

“That happens, we all have bad form and Danny Rose has had a really good season, but perhaps has been off the boil in the last few games.

“Sometimes you have to come out of the team, that happens in football.

“I thought the two lads who came in were nice and solid, which is what we wanted.”

  • Video reaction from Mickey Lewis and Josh Ruffels, via Oxford United's Youtube channel