ROB Dickie’s stoppage-time equaliser ensured Oxford United progressed to the knockout stages of the Trophy with a game to spare.

They cannot catch Portsmouth at the top of the group, though, after losing a penalty shoot-out for the extra point.

Josh Ruffels had the chance to win it, but saw his effort tipped on to the crossbar before Dan Agyei and Sam Long missed in sudden death.

United had named a much stronger line-up than their visitors and took the lead through Matty Taylor’s low finish.

Portsmouth levelled through Brad Lethbridge before the break, but they needed goalkeeper Alex Bass to make several fine saves.

Those heroics appeared to have paid off when Anton Walkes struck five minutes from time, before Dickie levelled the game in the 91st minute.

They are through, making next month’s trip to Crawley Town a dead rubber.

United’s teamsheet showed six changes from the weekend, but all those who came in were senior players.

The biggest surprise was to see Shandon Baptiste, who had been due in the Caribbean but was available after turning down his call-up for Grenada.

Portsmouth made 11 changes, but their youthful side had the first clear chance when Lethbridge fired wide from Ryan Williams’ cutback.

United warmed to their task, as Rob Hall, Taylor and Cameron Brannagan tried their luck from range.

Chances inside the box were harder to come by as Pompey packed the edge of the box when out of possession, but United found a way through on 21 minutes.

While Baptiste looked like he was trying to break through himself, the ball ran for Taylor to finish left-footed from near the penalty spot.

It could easily have been five goals in as many games for the Bristol City loanee from the next attack.

Mark Sykes and Long combined to create the chance, but Taylor’s shot on the turn was saved by Bass and the striker fired the rebound wide.

The visitors levelled against the run of play just after the half-hour mark.

Andy Cannon robbed Ruffels and when the ball fell for Josh Flint, his shot took a nick off Elliott Moore and diverted for Lethbridge to squeeze a shot past Simon Eastwood from an acute angle.

With Karl Robinson on the touchline urging his side to increase the tempo, the U’s twice came close to regaining the lead before the break.

Bass struggled to deal with Brannagan’s powerful shot from range, but the goalkeeper showed impressive reflexes to tip Long’s header over the bar from Ruffels’ centre on the stroke of half-time.

United racked up a host of corners after the break. While the majority were unthreatening, Dickie forced a save from Bass with one and appealed for a handball against Williams from another.

Bass also saved well from Sykes and Brannagan, but Portsmouth had chances themselves.

After Ben Close’s sweet volley was saved, fellow half-time substitute Gareth Evans was played through and saw his delicate finish saved by Eastwood.

Bass saved Dickie’s downward header as United finished strongly, but they were stung five minutes from time when Walkes got to Cannon’s pass before Eastwood and stabbed home.

Fabio Sole immediately came on for his debut as the hosts looked for a late equaliser.

It arrived in stoppage-time when a free-kick fell at Dickie’s feet and the centre back fired in on the turn to set up the shoot-out.

Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Eastwood, Long, Dickie, Moore, Ruffels, Gorrin (Sole 85), Brannagan, Baptiste (Lopes 73), Hall, Taylor (Agyei 68), Sykes.

Unused subs: Stevens, Cadden, Jones, Sole, Fosu.

Booked: None.

Portsmouth (4-2-3-1): Bass, Walkes, Downing, Hancott, Haunstrup, Rew (Close HT), Cannon, Maloney, Flint (Evans HT), Williams, Lethbridge (Harrision 62).

Unused subs: McGee, Harness, Raggett, Burgess.

Booked: Rew, Haunstrup.

Referee: Will Finnie (Northumberland).

Attendance: 1,548 (274 visitors).