Oxford United's under 18s went out of the Youth Alliance League Cup tonight after a 2-0 defeat to Cambridge United.
Goals from Kai Yearn and Oscar Winterbone were enough for the visitors on a freezing night at Court Place Farm.
Missing centre-backs Erion Zabeli and George Franklin through injury and suspension respectively, United pressed midfielder Zaide Took-Oxley into defensive duties alongside highly promising youngster Aaron Lacey.
With Josh Johnson back from his loan at Dartford and providing a steadying influence at the base of midfield, the two sides sparred for openings in the first half, doing their best on an icy 3G surface, but neither keeper were properly extended as those in front of them cancelled each other out.
The game needed a goal to liven it up, and two minutes from the break it came when Yearn beat Fraser Barnsley from the spot after George Hoddle had been tripped as he drifted across the box from the right.
That opened things up for the second half and the game became much more end to end. Barnsley made two excellent saves but was beaten for a second time as a deep corner was beaten away, headed off the line by Took-Oxley but then forced home at the third attempt to make it 2-0 to the visitors.
The U's tried to regroup but found it hard to break down an excellent Cambridge back line, and despite plenty of youthful enthusiasm, the better team won through to the final.
Good luck to Cambridge in that. United will learn from defeat, thaw out, then go again when they travel to Exeter City in the third round of the FA Youth Cup on Tuesday evening.
Barnsley, Sankoh (Fraser 89), Maxwell, Johnson (Fowler 65), Lacey, Took-Oxley (Mole 89), Burton, Brenan, Iheanacho, Tiamuna (Barrett-Doyle 72), Elliott-Wheeler (Travin 80)
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Edmunds