KEITH Hill believes promotion is within Oxford United's grasp - despite their poor showing against his Tranmere Rovers side.

The U's were deservedly beaten 2-0 by their Sky Bet League Two opponents in the Papa John's Trophy semi-final.

It ended United's run of seven straight home victories, while they failed to find the net for the first time since the stalemate at Blackpool on December 12.

Karl Robinson's side have won nine of their ten Sky Bet League One games since the 0-0 draw at Bloomfield Road and sit a point and a place outside the play-off positions.

Player ratings: What we thought of Oxford United against Tranmere

While a much-changed U's line-up struggled against Tranmere, visiting boss Hill felt the hosts' strength in depth will make them a real threat in the run-in.

He said: "They wear you down, they're excellent in possession.

"They create goalscoring opportunities and they win a lot of games late on.

"I've been studying Oxford since we got them and they bring three (substitutes) on and then two, so they've got this sustained energy in and out of possession.

"I was expecting the changes they made, because they've been doing it regularly.

"I can understand why they're winning so many games, because the substitutions are seemless and they're almost like-for-like.

"I see them having the credentials to go all the way and get promoted to the Championship."