U’s through in topsy-turvey game despite narrow defeat

Jack Payne with the first of his two goals. Picture: Steve Daniels

Oxford United are through to the knockout stages of the Checkatrade Trophy despite a chaotic 4-3 defeat at home to MK Dons on Tuesday.

Two goals from Jack Payne in the first half and a Rob Hall strike in the second meant little as results elsewhere guaranteed the U’s a place in the next round as runners up in Group G.

The goal-fest at the Kassam was played out in front of just 1,182 spectators – United’s third lowest home gate of all time.

But those who did attend enjoyed an entertaining game, although the defending on show was as leaky as the weather was miserable.

Pep Clotet, the United boss, made five changes from Friday’s awful FA Cup exit at Port Vale.

The U’s created lots and had copious chances to stick the ball in the back of the net, only for Brandon Thomas-Asante to give the Dons the lead on 10 minutes.

Joe Rothwell, Xemi, Payne and Jon Obika went close for United, the latter striking the post for the men in yellow.

Robbie Muirhead missed an open goal at the other end – and all this happened before 25 minutes.

Oxford had threatened an equaliser but found themselves in the lead thanks to a Jack Payne double, the second from the spot on 39 minutes.

But the carnage was far from over as MK would go in at the break ahead following a brace from winger Gboly Ariyibi, who grew up in Oxford.

The fun started again just after the hour mark when Rob Hall hammered home an equaliser, only for Ryan Seager to restore the lead two minutes later.

United had presentable chances but that’s the way it stayed and Stevenage’s win over Brighton’s academy side in the other Southern Group G match ensured the U’s finished runners-up on goal difference to reach the second round.

The Yellows go into tomorrow’s (Friday) draw knowing they will be away against the winners of group A, B, C or D unless they draw West Ham’s academy side when the fixture will be at the Kassam.

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