Port Vale manager Micky Adams is convinced his stuttering team will come through their latest dip.

The Valiants fell to a 76th-minute winner from Deane Smalley in going down 2-1 to Oxford at the Kassam Stadium, suffering back-to-back defeats for the first time this season. And having lost their last two at home, Adams knows Tuesday's clash with Bradford at Vale Park is now a massive one in terms of their season.

Adams said: "I was pleased with the first-half performance because we squeezed up and limited them to very few chances, but in the second half we sat back and invited pressure on ourselves. In the first half we gifted them a goal through Darren Purse's mistake, but then got back into the game with a great goal from Doug Loft.

"Then in the second half we got done with a goal that was avoidable. All the things that we were doing right to get results we're not doing at the moment. In the second half we were off the pace and our distribution to the front men was poor.

"We're left scratching our heads and don't recognise some of our players at the moment. There's no doubt we're lacking confidence. I stand by my players and always will but now they've got to look at themselves. We're in the eye of the storm at the moment, but we'll come through it, and we'll be better for it.

"This is a blip, there's no doubt about it, but we'll get through it. A lot of the players have got to ask questions of themselves. We've got to stand up and be counted against Bradford on Tuesday. But I'm glad we've got a game coming up quickly. Let's get this out of our systems as quickly as possible."

Alfie Potter fired the U's into a 10th-minute lead after a blunder by Vale's veteran defender Purse, who woefully underhit a backpass. Although Loft equalised, Smalley netted the winner 14 minutes from time.

For Oxford, who also saw Sean Rigg miss a 84th-minute penalty, it was a second big scalp in a week after the U's won 1-0 at table-topping Gillingham and a first home triumph since New Year's Day.

Boss Chris Wilder said: "It's been a long time coming and the supporters deserve it. We knew it would be a game that would open up, and that Port Vale would be on the front foot and coming at us and that suited us better.

"We defended very well when we had to and attacked well. We've now done well against the top two, and have to go again on Tuesday against Rotherham, another good team who are up near the top."