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16 February 2021 Venue The Kassam Stadium Attendance

Kick off 18:00 (UK)

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Match Previews

PREVIEW Oxford United v Tranmere Rovers

A full guide to tonight's Papa John's Trophy semi final

16 February 2021

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Oxford United welcome Tranmere Rovers to the Kassam Stadium tonight in the semi-final of the Papa John's Trophy (6pm)

TEAM NEWS
The U's could have James Henry available again after injury. The highly influential Henry missed Sunday's win over Wigan but was able to join training yesterday and will either be involved tonight or for the trip to Ipswich on Saturday.

Marcus McGuane also returned to light training but is still a few weeks away from a return to the side while Sam Long and John Mousinho are also unavailable.

Simon Eastwood stands by to return in goal while Matty Taylor could replace Sam Winnall up front despite the latter scoring on Sunday

See Anthony Forde and Karl Robinson previewing the game in iFollow now.

THE OPPOSITION
Tranmere beat Peterborough 2-1 to reach the semi-final and Manager Keith Hill is looking for his side to show the same sort of fighting spirit tonight:

“The players are looking forward to it. We’ve done exceptionally well in the previous rounds to get where we have done, and in the last round we beat League One opponents and we’re going to have to do the same against a very productive and a very attractive Oxford side. We are all looking forward to it. We realise it is a semi-final and we realise it’s an opportunity and we’re going to go to Oxford and try to win the game.

“You want to test yourself and we want to pit our wits against Oxford and against Karl Robinson and League One opposition because ultimately that’s where we want to be playing next season, so it is showing the players that they are more than capable of playing against League One opposition. There is no fear, despite how good the opposition are, and we are going there to try and impress but ultimately we are going there, and we want to get through to the Final.

MATCH SPONSORS
Our thanks to EB Charging who are  sponsoring the matchFind out all about them HERE

COVERAGE
The game is live on Sky Sports and therefore we cannot stream the game in the UK. However commentary, no video, is available in iFollow.

Overseas fans will need to check locally - if the game is being shown on TV in your area then similar rules will apply.

We have all the build up on twitter and on our official Insta page, complete with behind the scenes exclusive content, plus a full report and Gallery right here on the final whistle and reaction from all the key men in iFollow.

And look out for some special guests on the official You Tube channel for 'Matchday Live', available to help you get in to matchday mood from 5.15pm.

Tranmere Videos

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Match Reports

REPORT Oxford United 0 Tranmere Rovers 2

U's go out in the semi-final. Full-time report

16 February 2021

Oxford United fell one step short of a Wembley final as Tranmere Rovers made it through to the final of the Papa John's Trophy with a 2-0 win at the Kassam Stadium this evening.

Goals from Kaiyne Woolery and Kieran Morris were enough to send Rovers through to the final as United lost for just the second time in 15 games in all competitions

The visitors started brightly enough to warn of the danger that was to come despite the division difference, and it took a brilliant save from Simon Eastwood to keep it at 0-0 inside the first ten minutes as he got down to his right to palm away a goalbound effort from Danny Lloyd.

Those opening few minutes were frantic cup football and had Matty Taylor made better connection after 12 or Rob Hall been a couple of feet more accurate with a free kick on 16 then the U’s may well have had an early lead.

Instead they were behind after 35 minutes as the dangerous Woolery gave his side the lead. It wasn’t elaborate football that opened the U’s up. It was a goal kick from Scott Davies that started things and Woolery who got the bounce of the ball as he challenged Josh Ruffels. The suspicion was that an arm helped him knock the ball forward but after that the finish was excellent, the winger driving to the edge of the box and firing powerfully past the flying Eastwood for a very well taken goal.

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Eastwood kept his side in the tie with a reflex save from a Manny Monthe flick from a corner soon after, and although Mide Shodipo provided a run and cross that deserved a finish as it flashed across the goal, United could have few arguments with the half-time scoreline.

Something needed to be done and Cameron Brannagan and Rob Atkinson were given 45 minutes to turn things around. Atkinson, on as a centre-half/left winger made an immediate impact. The defender’s powerful runs from the back have been a massive plus for the U’s since his arrival from Eastleigh and two minutes into the second half he was at it again, powering past defenders and tripped in the box for a penalty.

Sadly, on Shrove Tuesday Matty Taylor lent back and the penalty flew harmlessly over the bar and into the empty seats rather than the net. People will look at that as the defining moment, but United had three more chances soon after to turn the game around.

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Undeterred,they threw everything they had at Tranmere. Atkinson nodded a free kick across but Jamie Hanson missed his kick in front of goal. Taylor wriggled clear but saw his effort come back off the post. Moments later his header clipped the top of the bar.

A goal was coming but against the run of play it came at the other end.

Again, the delivery wasn't a thing of beauty, just a well-flighted free kick nodded down in the penalty area. But it fell to Morris and he fired it on the half-volley past the helpless Eastwood to give the League 2 side a 2-0 lead and put them within touching distance of Wembley.

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United became ever more frantic, with Brandon Barker joining a front four on the right of Sam Winnall, Taylor and Shodipo, with Sykes never far behind them. Forde fired a free kick wide, Taylor flicked another header inches past the post, Ruffels saw a flick grasped on the line by Davies and the last few minutes saw a desperate siege.

Credit to Tranmere, who withstood that and have beaten Peterborough and now the U's to reach Wembley. They will play either Sunderland or Lincoln in the final and we wish them well.

United meanwhile will do what they always do. Don't get too high when you win games, learn and regroup when you lose them. They are still on an incredible run, have closed the gap on the play-off places in the league and they will go again.

Just on this occasion in the Papa John's Trophy, they failed to deliver.

Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Daniels and Rex Shutterstock, stats by OPTA

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