TAKE your chance.

That was the message we kept hearing ahead of last night’s game and Joel Cooper certainly did that.

The Northern Irishman was not meant to be in Oxford United’s starting XI against Tottenham Hotspur Under 21s, but came in when Ryan Williams withdrew because of illness.

He took less than 120 seconds to grab his opportunity, lashing home the opener after Billy Bodin’s shot was blocked, and it was a sign of things to come.

Read also: Karl Robinson's thoughts on last night's game

The winger’s work rate has been clear in the few games he has played, so it was brilliant to see an end product to match – particularly when he volleyed in his and United’s second goal.

With better finishing Bodin would have scored a couple too, although ironically the former Bristol Rovers man is one of several wide players above Cooper in the pecking order.

All you can do is train well and seize your opportunity when it comes, so it is unfortunate the Emirates FA Cup may be the 25-year-old’s only look-in for the time being.

The U's are out of the Carabao Cup and will play no further part in this season’s Papa John’s Trophy, although the response at full-time was closer to jubilation than frustration.

RATINGS: Every Oxford United player marked out of 10

I cannot think of a game I have covered where there has been more apathy among the fanbase - completely understandable considering the controversial format of the competition and United's position going into the match.

For many of us, it was more about getting a look at United’s fringe players and any rising stars that might get the nod.

Simon Eastwood was solid again in goal, while Marcus McGuane showed great energy on his return and John Mousinho was commanding at centre back.

The game was open from the start and became more so as players tired, which played into Alex Gorrin’s hands as he drove forward for a rare goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the goals

You felt for Jamie Hanson at left back, up against Jack Clarke in his first game for five months.

The winger, who was the next big thing at Leeds United not too long ago, gave his opponent a tough time, although at least the U’s man came through it unscathed.

Luke McNally showed he is still raw with the two fouls that saw him sent off, while it felt like Dan Agyei missed an opportunity to put in an eye-catching display.

The forward had all the attributes to worry the Spurs defence, but took time to get into the game and needed to be more clinical.

Josh Johnson also found it difficult to get up to speed on his home debut, however a forward-thinking second-half display showed plenty of promise.

It was a good night for United’s academy, with four 17-year-olds on the pitch, but players like debutant James Golding will have one message drummed into them: this is just the start.

The minutes for rising stars rounded off a useful evening for the U’s, as they showed why a controversial competition can be valuable.