AN emotional Karl Robinson paid tribute to his Oxford United players’ character as a half-fit side found a way to win an evenly-matched play-off semi-final against Portsmouth.

The U’s came from behind in both legs to draw 1-1, but held their nerve to reach a Wembley final against Wycombe Wanderers with a 5-4 success in the penalty shoot-out.

Robinson had to carefully select his side, keeping top scorer Matty Taylor on the bench for an hour because the striker was one of several players who were struggling.

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The U’s head coach said: “Let’s be honest, Cameron Brannagan was carrying an injury.

“So was Marcus Browne, James Henry was knackered, Matty Taylor couldn’t start the game.

“We were a depleted team again and we found a way.

“We’ve all witnessed some games here that have blown your mind in the way that we play.

“This wasn’t that, but they blew your minds with appetite and desire. I’m immensely proud of them.

“I don’t think you realise how much this means to me.

“It’s something I want so badly for the players and the fans. I know what it means to a lot of people and it really does touch you.”

Robinson started his post-match duties by paying respects to Portsmouth after two evenly-fought games.

But the United boss admitted the lack of supporters, due to coronavirus measures, was a huge blow.

“I’m just devastated our fans can’t be there,” he said.

“For the Oxford fans at home, that was for you.

“Celebrate in your gardens, sadly they can’t be at Wembley with us.

“But Oxford United are in a play-off final.

“We’ve sold six million pounds worth of players, lost players and this is just a good group who are so desperate to succeed.”