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Michael Appleton proud of Oxford United display despite Johnstone's Paint Trophy defeat

3 April 2016

Oxford United manager Michael Appleton said he was proud of his side's display in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final, despite losing to Barnsley 3-2.

The U's stormed into a first-half lead when Callum O'Dowda headed home prior to the interval, but Barnsley struck three times in 22 second-half minutes to turn the game on its head.

Danny Hylton pulled one back for Oxford late on, but the Tykes held out to seal their maiden Trophy sucess.

Speaking after the game, Appleton said: "I think there's obviously a sense of disappointment to have lost the game, there's no doubt about that.

"To concede as early as we did after half-time certainly gave Barnsley a massive lift and they had a strong 20-minute spell after that where we had to dig in.

"We've been really good at not conceding goals close together all season and when the second one went in it was a real test for the players.

"When you're playing a quality side like Barnsley you've got to go and get that second goal.

"It's pretty hard not to be proud, though, we had so many young players on the field today and that will do them the world of good."

Appleton said focus will now switch back to the league duties, where Oxford remain well placed to achieve automatic promotion to Sky Bet League 1.

He added: "We have six massive games coming up and hopefully we can use this as some sort of motivation to make sure we don't have to come back here [Wembley].

"We came here to win the game, not to compete, but the earlier rounds have proved that we are more than capable at competing at the next level. Ultimately, we need to get there first.

"There are six or seven players who will hold their own at the next level and probably even higher. We are aware of that and we need to keep the vultures away if we can in the next few months.

"We'll be back in Tuesday, we need to re-focus on the league campaign and that's the most important thing. 

"It would have been fantastic to win but we've got one goal this year and we have six games to go and finish the job off."

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