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Oxford Utd 1, Portsmouth 2
Oxford Utd 1 (Constable 89), Portsmouth 2 (Agyemang 65, Marquis 82)
JAMES Constable's late strike proved to be just a consolation as Oxford United exited the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at the hands of Portsmouth.
The striker's late response to goals from Patrick Agyemang and John Marquis set up a tense finish, but the hosts could not find an equaliser to force a penalty shoot-out.
A much-changed line-up dominated the first half, with several young players to the fore.
But they were unable to open the scoring and Portsmouth, who had been wretched for an hour, stirred themselves to score twice and book their place in the area quarter-finals next month.
U's boss Chris Wilder took the chance to shuffle his pack, making five changes to the side which started Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Southend.
Constable led the line, while they fielded an entirely new midfield, where Josh Ruffels made his first start, alongside Scott Davies, while teenagers Ryan Williams and Callum O'Dowda where on the flanks.
The youngsters wasted little time in making an impact and were key in a bright opening half hour, which was a huge improvement on the weekend.
Williams laid on the first clear chance, on 15 minutes, crossing for Constable to shoot at goalkeeper Trevor Carson.
Davies showed an excellent range of passing and one left-footed effort set up a race between Constable and Bondz N'Gala, which the Pompey defender just won.
United should have made their positive approach pay around the half hour mark.
O'Dowda whipped in a corner which Michael Raynes met firmly but could not steer the headed on target.
Williams's endeavour then forced an error in the Portsmouth defence, leading to a chance which Ruffels curled wide from 20 yards.
Apart from not finding the net, United's only worry at half-time was the sight of Alfie Potter limping off, replaced by Deane Smalley.
Portsmouth were impressively backed by a large travelling contingent, but a strong line-up failed to build any attacking pressure before the break.
The away fans sarcastically cheered their first attempt on goal, on 54 minutes, when Ryan Clarke comfortably saved from Romain Padovani.
But it began a better spell from the visitors, especially once Carson had parried Constable's header on the hour.
Within five minutes they were ahead via a flash of quality from Agyemang, who cut in from the right and bent a shot into the net with the outside of his boot.
They went up a gear and Clarke saved superbly to keep out a low shot from Ricky Holmes, before denying Marquis in a one-on-one.
Marquis made amends eight minutes from time, heading in Yassin Moutaoukil's cross.
Constable pulled a goal back late on from Michael Raynes's knock-down, but the hosts were unable to find an equaliser.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Hunt, Raynes, Mullins, Newey, Williams, Davies, Ruffels, O'Dowda, Potter, Constable Subs used: Smalley (Potter 42), Hall (Williams 72) Unused subs: Crocombe, Hall, Rose, Bevans Booked: Raynes, Smalley, O'Dowda Portsmouth (4-2-3-1): Carson, Moutaouakil, N'Gala, Bradley, Painter (Cooper 17), Padovani (Agyemang 59), Ertl, Wallace, Mahon, Holmes (Barcham 77), Marquis Unused subs: Smith, Whatmough Booked: Marquis, Wallace Referee: Iain Williamson (Berkshire) Attendance: 3,697 (1,132 visitors)
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