KARL Robinson was proud of Oxford United after his depleted side went toe-to-toe with Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup.

The U’s matched the Premier League club for most of the second round tie at the Kassam Stadium, only to lose 2-0 through late goals from Odsanne Edouard and Luka Milivojevic.

United were without eight first-team players through injury and Robinson’s starting XI included four teenagers and a goalkeeper making only his second appearance in English football, in Ed McGinty.

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But they took the game to Palace in the opening 45 minutes before the visitors’ top-flight class eventually told.

Robinson said: “I thought we were the better team in the first half.

“We were the only ones to have a shot on target, the only ones who pressed.

“When you take your brakes off and play with this youthful enthusiasm, it’s why we all love the game.

"When we play the way we did in the first half it was incredibly exciting to watch and that’s how football should be."

United’s starting XI included Gatlin O’Donkor and Josh Johnson, both 17, plus 18-year-old James Golding and 19-year-old Leeds United loanee Lewis Bate.

Tyler Goodrham, 19, and Slavi Spasov, 20, came off the bench and the U’s head coach thought they all made an impact.

He said: “JJ’s a top player. I remember when he first came on trial, after ten minutes I went and pulled his Dad and said ‘I want your son here’.

“Gatlin has power, James Golding looks a pure athlete, Tyler looked like a bundle of energy and Slavi worked hard when he came on as well.

“What a great night for our football club, to put that performance on was excellent.”

Robinson’s only frustration was with referee Peter Bankes, who he felt missed an elbow from Crystal Palace’s Jean-Philippe Mateta on U’s captain John Mousinho in the first half.

The Eagles striker was already on a yellow card when he clashed with the centre back in the centre circle.

“I’m proud of my team, but disappointed in the officials. He’s looking at an elbow, he swung it,” he said.

“I had a phone call from the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Board) on Monday to apologise for the penalty they missed and the sending-off in the second half (against Morecambe).

“I’ll probably be getting another phone call tomorrow.

“It has to change, you’re seeing an inconsistency right across it.

“It’s sad that we’re talking about that, rather than my young players.”