KARL Robinson was delighted to see his young defence step up to end Oxford United’s long wait for a Sky Bet League One clean sheet.

The U’s boss gave goalkeeper Jack Stevens a first

third-tier start since April 2019 against Ipswich Town, with Simon Eastwood dropped to the bench.

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The 22-year-old stopper is the same age as centre back Rob Atkinson, whose partner in the middle, Elliott Moore, captained the side at 23.

United’s defence was rarely troubled in the 0-0 draw that saw them claim a first league clean sheet since February.

While an out-of-form Ipswich offered little, Robinson was pleased with the way his players kept their opponents at arm’s length throughout.

The U’s head coach said: “Sometimes good defending isn’t a block or one-on-one duels, it’s avoiding the shot through the communication that goes on before.

“I felt we did that. It didn’t look like a team that is where it is in the league.

“I think the nervous energy took its toll in the last five or six minutes because of the lack of clean sheets.

“We’ll improve on it and hopefully be better by the Hull game (on Saturday).”

The stalemate, against a side battling for promotion, saw United end a run of 18 matches without a league shutout and was a welcome response to Saturday’s late derby defeat to Swindon Town.

Robinson will look for centre back cover when the transfer window opens next month, but he has had no complaints about the displays of Moore and Atkinson this season.

He said: “We know we need another centre back.

“But if you spoke to most fans I don’t think they’d have too many gripes about the performance of the two centre backs.

“There’s a lot more things than just defending the goal and we’ve all got to help them out.

“We didn’t hang on for a clean sheet and that’s the pleasing thing.”