OXFORD United need to go out and attack Rochdale on a night where only a victory will do, according to Mark Sykes.

The stakes were already high at Spotland, but Saturday’s results only increased the pressure for Karl Robinson’s side.

A 1-0 defeat at Gillingham saw them slip back into the relegation zone, just ahead of Dale.

United had won their previous two games with a safety-first approach.

But against the English Football League’s leakiest defence, Sykes believes the visitors should get on the front foot from the beginning.

He said: “I think we have no other option than to be positive and go there with an attacking frame of mind.

“We need a massive result, it’s the business end of the season.

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“It’s a dogfight down there and we need to keep winning games.

“Last Saturday we needed the point and didn’t get it, so it becomes even more important we get the three on Tuesday.

“We can’t go into the game with a negative mindset where we just want to get something, we need to win the game.”

While the U’s were hit by a late goal in Kent, Rochdale were beating Shrewsbury Town to boost their survival hopes.

And the home side will have the added incentive of knowing a victory would take them above United.

While Robinson did not view this evening’s fixture as more important than any other, the head coach acknowledged that would add spice to the fixture.

He said: “You want to win every game because that’s the way your mentality should be.

“I’ve always spoken about there being no game bigger than any other, but the repercussions sometimes have more of an effect.

“(Losing) would have a repercussion obviously and would be something we’ll have to do our best to not allow it to happen.”

Saturday’s game was affected by a blustery wind and conditions could be challenging tonight.

Rochdale have hired an inflatable dome, which means the heavy rain forecast overnight and into this morning will not be an issue.

But Robinson knows mastering the elements could make all the difference.

He said: “I think the weather will certainly influence the performance, even though it’s something that they or us don’t want to do.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re strong in that type of moment.

“You talk about season-defining moments and it’s about this game and us finding a way.”