TWO goals in the space of four minutes saw Oxford United battle past Plymouth Argyle and book their place in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup.

Quickfire strikes from James Henry and Cameron Brannagan at the beginning of the second half saw the U’s take control of the all Sky Bet League One tie at Home Park.

Plymouth could have been ahead at the break and reduced the arrears with 23 minutes remaining through Antoni Sarcevic.

Substitute Ruben Lameiras then hit a post in injury time, but United held on.

Karl Robinson named an unchanged starting XI for the third game in a row, with the only alterations on the bench as Jack Stevens and Owen James replaced Jonathan Mitchell and the cup-tied Harvey Bradbury.

The U’s boss reported Gavin Whyte suffered a back spasm early this morning, but the Northern Ireland winger showed no signs of pain when he raced down the right on two minutes and drove the ball across goal.

Plymouth, though, made the brighter start and Curtis Nelson put in two crucial blocks against his former club to deny Freddie Ladapo and Sarcevic.

United registered the first meaningful effort when Marcus Browne, full of confidence from his two-goal display in midweek, cut inside and fired just wide from 20 yards.

But Argyle created a better opportunity on 17 minutes, when Graham Carey found Joel Grant with a delightful cross-field ball.

The winger raced into the area and wrong-footed Jamie Hanson, before firing into the side-netting as the angle narrowed.

Grant was then presented with another chance on 26 minutes, but back-heeled wide from close range after David Cox's corner had hit Rob Dickie at the back post and fell to the feet of the winger.

United could have been behind and were all at sea before riding their luck again as Ladapo fired just wide moments later after Dickie had given the ball away.

The hosts had not made the most of their chances and were fortunate not to go behind on 31 minutes.

A swift counter led by Whyte saw Browne race into the area, but the West Ham United loanee failed to hit the target, firing across the face of Matt Macey’s goal and wide.

Plymouth won seven corners to the visitors’ one in a first half where they looked the more likely to score, but the U’s defended well when it mattered to leave the hosts frustrated at the break.

United started the second period well and recorded their first shot on target when Browne forced Macey into a fine save at his near post on 46 minutes.

They were on the attack again three minutes later and this time they opened the scoring.

A fine move saw Jamie Mackie break into the area and he slipped the ball into Henry who fired home through the legs of Macey from a narrow angle for his eighth goal of the season.

Plymouth looked for an immediate response and Fox hit an effort into the ground which beat goalkeeper Simon Eastwood, but Dickie was well positioned to head clear on the line.

The U’s No 1 then supebly denied Yann Songo'o from the resulting corner, before the defender headed the loose ball wide.

Plymouth had gone in search for a quick response, but United doubled their lead on 53 minutes.

Henry saw a shot blocked and Mackie played the ball to Brannagan, who picked out the top corner with a superb strike from 20 yards which had Macey grasping at thin air.

The midfielder then raced towards the travelling U's fans in elation, but was booked for his celebration which means he will miss the next round.

United were suddenly stroking the ball around with confidence, but Plymouth got themselves back into the game on 67 minutes.

Carey picked up the ball on the left and delivered a fine low cross, which Sarcevic flicked past Eastwood and into the far corner.

The goal ramped the noise at Home Park up a notch and Dickie made a fine block with his head to keep out a Fox effort with 15 minutes to go.

United were still causing problems and Whyte’s low cross found John Mousinho, but his shot hit Niall Canavan and bounced clear.

The tie was in the balance with ten minutes remaining and Plymouth dominated possession, forcing their visitors back.

Carey curled over the bar as the hosts pressed for an equaliser and Songo’o headed a corner over late on.

Plymouth continued to throw numbers forward and Lameiras hit a post in injury time with a rasping drive, but United survived to progress to the next round.

Plymouth Argyle (4-3-3): Macey, Riley, Songo’o, Canavan, Smith-Brown (Lameiras 86), Sarcevic, Fox, Ness (Taylor 72), Carey, Ladapo, J Grant.

Unused subs: Letheren, Wylde, Moore, P Grant, Jephcott.

Booked: Riley, Ness, Smith-Brown.

Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Eastwood, Hanson, Nelson, Dickie, Ruffels, Mousinho, Brannagan, Henry, Whyte (Long 90), Browne, Mackie.

Unused subs: Stevens, Norman, Garbutt, Smith, Raglan, James.

Booked: Brannagan.

Referee: Peter Wright (Merseyside).

Attendance: 5,984 (381 U’s fans).