NEAL Maupay’s late penalty proved the difference as hard-working Oxford United were edged out of the Emirates FA Cup by Brentford.

Of more concern for the visitors was the worrying sight of Shandon Baptiste being stretchered off just ten minutes into his comeback.

While it was a fourth straight defeat for Karl Robinson’s side, they should take plenty of heart from the display, which was far better than their previous three.

Brentford had the lion’s share of the tie’s chances, but were frustrated by Simon Eastwood in the first half.

They found life more difficult in a second half broken up by Baptiste’s injury, but the extra class of Maupay coming off the bench told in the end.

United had hoped to hand a debut to Mark Sykes, but the midfielder’s international clearance had not been received in time following his move from Glenavon in Northern Ireland.

Fellow January signing Jordan Graham did make the starting line-up, while John Mousinho was restored to the side as Luke Garbutt dropped out.

Graham started on the left, so the suspended Cameron Brannagan’s place was filled by shifting Marcus Browne into a more central role.

It was an attacking line-up, but the underdogs had to dig in at times against their higher-ranked hosts.

After a scrappy opening, the Bees’ neat football began to threaten around the midway mark in the first half.

U’s goalkeeper Simon Eastwood made three stops in eight minutes, each more demanding than the last.

The first was relatively routine, parrying Josh Dasilva’s speculative 30-yard effort.

The following two came about after flashes of Championship quality, but Eastwood was on hand to block low shots from Moses Odubajo and Yoann Barbet.

At the other end Luke Daniels was troubled just once before the break, saving a well-struck 25-yard effort from James Henry.

While United struggled to fashion chances, they did have a spell around the half-hour mark where Brentford had to defend diligently.

But the hosts ended the half with another push and only an excellent intervention from Jamie Hanson denied Rico Henry, who had earlier missed a sitter, a tap-in from Sergi Canos’s 36th-minute cross.

United saw out the pressure to reach half-time on level terms, but they sat steadily deeper after the restart as Brentford dominated possession.

But the visitors’ defensive concentration ensured clear-cut chances were hard to come by, with Ollie Watkins slicing one opening wide.

The U’s rarely worried Brentford, but roared on by their away fans were edging closer to a replay.

Baptiste lifted them briefly, but his comeback after more than two months out lasted only a few minutes.

The midfielder appeared to fall awkwardly and suffer a knee injury which saw him stretchered off after several minutes of treatment.

Luke Garbutt replaced him, but it was another substitute who broke the deadlock.

Just as the home fans were beginning to grow impatient, their side worked the ball well to get Maupay down the left.

The Bees’ top scorer showed great composure in the area and drew a challenge from Mousinho, which brought him down.

Maupay sent Eastwood the wrong way from 12 yards to put Brentford ahead.

United had less than ten minutes of normal time, but they showed an encouraging response.

James Henry’s curled shot from the edge of the box was tipped over at full stretch by Daniels, while United had a penalty appeal on Browne turned down.

They forced a couple of nervy moments in the eight minutes added on, but Brentford stood firm to reach the fourth round.

Brentford (3-4-3): Daniels, Konsa, Jeanvier, Barbet, Odubajo, McEachran, Dasilva, Henry, Benrahma (Maupay 68), Watkins, Canos (Judge 68).

Unused subs: Balcombe, Mokotjo, Ogbene, Racic, Sorensen.

Booked: None.

Oxford Utd (4-1-4-1): Eastwood, Hanson, Nelson, Dickie, Ruffels, Mousinho, Whyte, Henry, Browne, Graham (Norman 88), Mackie (Baptiste 64, Garbutt 74).

Unused subs: Stevens, Raglan, Long, James.

Booked: Mousinho, Nelson, Browne, Henry.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire).

Attendance: 6,106 (1,605 visitors).