JOHN Mousinho reckoned Oxford United lacked the confidence to respond to setbacks in their 2-1 defeat to MK Dons.
The U’s suffered their fifth loss in nine Sky Bet League One games, against a side who started the day in the relegation zone.
A crucial two minutes late in the first half saw Marcus Browne strike the post and Cameron Brannagan hit the crossbar from the rebound, before Matt Smith opened the scoring for the visitors.
Mousinho rued a key moment, but knows United need to find it within themselves to make amends.
The U’s captain said: “There are a number of factors that have not quite gone for us this year, it’s one of those things.
“When things are going well for you, Cam pops up with the chance and it hits the back of the net - when things aren’t going for you it hits the guy in the nose and hits the bar.
“Those are things that only we can really change and not use them as excuses to go on and lose games.
“We’re maybe in the spot where we don’t have the confidence to brush those off.
“The best sides manage to brush off losses and moments in games that haven’t gone for them. We need to get back to that.”
United toiled during the second half as they struggled to create meaningful chances until the closing stages of the game.
By that point, MK substitute Will Grigg had made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after he had been fouled by Simon Eastwood.
Mousinho halved the deficit with an 89th-minute header, but the U’s could not find an equaliser in a dramatic end to the contest.
It condemned United to back-to-back defeats, coming four days after a 1-0 loss at Plymouth Argyle.
Midfielder Marcus McGuane said after the game at Home Park that the U’s needed ‘more courage’ in the second half and Mousinho touched on a similar theme against MK.
The centre back said: “It was really disappointing to come in at half-time 1-0 down, but we were happy with the performance.
“In the second half we went off the boil a bit, we dropped our levels and weren’t quite as brave as we had been.
“They probably stepped ten yards higher up the pitch and were more aggressive.
“That was probably the more disappointing thing. We didn’t show enough in the second half to get back in the game.”