ROB Atkinson believes Oxford United’s stalemate with Ipswich Town gives them a platform to build on.

The Sky Bet League One play-off hopefuls could not be separated as the U’s ended the day eighth in the table, three points off the top six.

Both sides were hunting a reaction, with United aiming to bounce back from last Tuesday’s Papa John’s Trophy semi-final defeat to Tranmere Rovers and Ipswich looking to ease the pressure on manager Paul Lambert.

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Atkinson felt a clean sheet at Portman Road should not be underestimated, while urging the U’s to find another level when they host fifth-placed Portsmouth tomorrow.

“I know they’re not in the best vein of form right now, but it’s a really good point,” the centre back said.

“We knew we had to react and I think we did that.

“I also thought there was room for more improvement and we’re going to have to bring our A-game on Tuesday.

“Portsmouth are up there, we want to be up there and we need to perform better than we did.”

Ipswich came closest to scoring when James Norwood pounced on Alex Gorrin’s miskick in the second half, only to see his effort hit the post.

The striker could have broken the deadlock after just eight minutes, but Atkinson was in the right place to clear his header off the line.

Maintaining concentration was vital in a game of few chances, according to the 22-year-old.

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Atkinson said: “When you’re playing against such good players that have dropped down from higher levels they’re always going to be on it.

“As a young lad you have to stay switched on and focused at all times.

“We did that and that allowed us to keep a clean sheet.

“It was scrappy, but we were happy.”

Three of United’s last four meetings with Ipswich have ended goalless, including the Tractor Boys’ visit to the Kassam Stadium in December.

Matty Taylor headed the U’s best chance over the crossbar in the 64th minute, but head coach Karl Robinson was satisfied with a point at the home of a promotion rival.

He said: “If you don’t lose to the teams in and around you and pick up points in the rest of the games, that’s how you do it.

“In years gone by you would’ve got carried away with trying to get an even better result.

“Sometimes it leaves you open and you end up losing that point.”