FAMILIAR issues hampered Oxford United again as their rut deepened with a 3-1 defeat at promotion contenders Rotherham United.

The in-form hosts made the most of some poor defending to race into a 2-0 lead before the U’s got into the game.

James Henry pulled a goal back late in the first half, but Michael Smith struck shortly after the break for a Millers side who looked stronger all over the pitch.

Rob Dickie was brought in for his debut, but the centre back admitted the U’s had made life difficult for themselves once again.

“We shot ourselves in the foot for the first couple of goals and then when it gets like that you’re always chasing the game,” he said.

“They have a certain way of playing and they executed it.

“They obviously came into the game with a lot of confidence and executed their game plan. It was a disappointing night for us.”

United have now conceded 50 goals in Sky Bet League One, just two shy of their total from the whole of last season.

For caretaker boss Derek Fazackerley, it is hugely frustrating to see the same issues resurface on a regular basis.

He said: “We didn’t help ourselves again. We seem to go on about it every week, but it’s a recurring theme where we should have done better for the first two goals, undoubtedly.

“I thought the players showed a good reaction to that and the performance in terms of energy, enthusiasm and desire was certainly decent.

“We had a reasonable spell at the start of the second half, but then conceded a third goal.

“Of course then it’s a mountain to climb again and it’s not the first time we’ve said that in the last few weeks.”

And Fazackerley felt the difference in performance levels summed up the contrasting form the two sides are in.

He said: “They’re on a 12-game unbeaten run and the confidence in their players was evident and the lack of confidence in our players at times was evident as well because of the little run we’ve been on.

“In terms of possession we had the same as Rotherham, but they were better in both penalty areas.”