SIMON Eastwood saved two penalties as Oxford United won a shoot-out against Cheltenham Town to reach the Checkatrade Trophy quarter-finals.

The U’s goalkeeper kept out spot kicks from Conor Thomas and Chris Clements.

Karl Robinson’s side did not miss, with John Mousinho, James Henry and Jordan Graham finding the net, before Cameron Brannagan scored the decisive penalty.

Brannagan had ended United’s goal drought with a close-range header in first-half stoppage-time.

But Cheltenham hit back just after the hour mark through Kevin Dawson and with neither side able to force a winner, the tie went to a shoot-out.

United prevailed and for the fourth year in a row have reached the quarter-finals, to be played in a fortnight.

Brannagan was among four changes made to the starting line-up from Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup defeat at Brentford.

It was a strong line-up, though, with Gavin Whyte operating as a striker in Jamie Mackie’s absence.

After a cagey opening, the game spluttered into life midway through the half.

Cheltenham forged the first clear chance, but Dawson fired harmlessly wide after veteran striker Luke Varney sprung the offside trap and crossed.

United responded through Marcus Browne.

First, the winger ran away from two defenders before shooting over from 20 yards. Two minutes later he forcing Scott Flinders into a save from a downward header after Jordan Graham’s cross to the back post.

Alex Addai looped a header on to the roof of the net at the other end, before the contest deteriorated again.

The stalemate lasted until stoppage-time in the first half, when United showed a flash of quality.

Graham countered quickly down the right and spotted the overlapping James Henry. United’s skipper for the night hung up a deep cross, which Brannagan nodded in from close range.

It was the side’s first goal in 406 minutes and the midfielder came close to a second shortly after the interval, but his shot cleared the crossbar from 18 yards.

United could not build on that advantage though and the tie became very open, with the teams taking it in turns to attack.

The chaotic nature of the game paid off for the Robins, who drew level on 64 minutes.

A Charlie Raglan slip allowed Addai in, but the danger appeared to have gone when Rob Dickie made a smart block. Cheltenham regained possession, though, and when substitute Matthew Bower swung in a cross from the left, Dawson guided a header into the far corner.

Browne twice fired over from Graham passes, before Luke Garbutt came within inches of scoring against his former club with a right-footed shot from the edge of the area.

The contest became very end-to-end in the closing stages.

Tyrone Barnett headed over a cross from fellow substitute Ryan Broom, who grazed the crossbar with a wayward delivery from out wide.

Henry and Whyte blazed chances over late on, but with no breakthrough the tie went to spot kicks.

Cheltenham Tn (3-4-1-2): Flinders, Forster (Bower HT), Tozer, Alcock, Dawson, Clements, Thomas, Hussey, Maddox (Broom 64), Varney (Barnett 64), Addai.

Unused subs: Lovett, Lloyd, Duncan, Brennan.

Booked: Varney, Alcock, Addai.

Oxford Utd (4-3-3-): Eastwood, Long (Nelson 79), Raglan, Dickie, Garbutt, Hanson (Mousinho 62), Brannagan, Henry, Graham, Whyte, Browne (Sykes 79).

Unused subs: Stevens, Ruffels, Spasov, Bradbury.

Booked: Brannagan.

Referee: Ollie Yates (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 1,288 (332 visitors).