Johnny Mullins says the defence must take their share of the blame for Oxford United failing to avoid defeat at Rochdale.

The U’s were on top for much of the game at Spotland, but conceded twice in the final 12 minutes to lose 2-0.

Much of the criticism was aimed at the side’s attacking players, who spurned several chances.

But Mullins felt he and the rest of the back four were just as culpable for failing to keep a clean sheet, which would have at least prevented a sixth successive away defeat in npower League Two.

He said: “I’m just really gutted, because we have given them two goals.

“At half-time, we could have comfortably been ahead, but when it’s not going for you up top, that’s when as defenders we’re paid to keep the ball out of the net.”

For U’s boss Chris Wilder, the inability of his side to follow up the 5-0 thrashing of Accrington with another good result explains why the club are 18th in the table.

He said: “If players want to kick their careers on they have to show what they showed on Saturday again on a Tuesday.

“Maybe not always to the level they showed against Accrington, but somewhere near it, especially the front players.”

He added: “The good players go on and the good teams go on, and that’s what they have to strive for.”

Mullins is the newest arrival to the United squad, after joining on loan from Rotherham earlier this month.

The 26-year-old admits to being surprised by the atmosphere in the camp, which is not what he expected for a side struggling for form.

He said: “It genuinely doesn’t feel like that, there’s so much quality in the dressing room.

“You saw on Saturday and in glimpses against Rochdale what the team can do going forward.

“We know that more often than not we’re going to get the goals – we have players who can create and finish.

“The league table doesn’t lie, but there are a lot of players in the changing room who will be putting it right.”