A STRONG Oxford United side were knocked out of the Leasing.com Trophy as they failed to score in the penalty shoot-out following a goalless draw at Exeter City.

Anthony Forde, Rob Hall and Mark Sykes all saw their spot kicks saved by Dino Visser, while the home side converted all their efforts.

It rounded off a disappointing night for the U’s, who never really got going.

Jamie Mackie and Dan Agyei were denied by the impressive Visser in the first half, but the Sky Bet League One side were unable to really put their hosts – who changed their entire line-up – under pressure.

City rose to the challenge in the shoot-out, ending United’s perfect run in the three domestic cup competitions.

They now have to refocus quickly on Saturday’s home game with Shrewsbury Town in League One.

Robinson made six changes, but it remained a strong team packed with experience.

They were captained by Mackie, who came so close to opening the scoring against his former side on 11 minutes.

Slipped in by Hall, the forward’s rising shot from 12 yards was turned on to the crossbar by goalkeeper Visser.

City had made 11 changes, but after a shaky start they hit back to make it an even contest up to the break.

Midway through the half they should have gone ahead, when Matt Jay got into a good position. Although Jack Stevens – in for the injured Simon Eastwood – got down well to make a good save with his left leg, the ball looped up for Joel Randall, who with the goal gaping fired his shot against Jay.

United will have been frustrated at the level of control they had on the tie, as City pressed them well.

But six minutes before the interval Agyei showed power and pace to blow his marker away and get into the box. His shot was low and hard, but Visser made a fine save diving to his right.

Back came City, with Stevens again parrying a shot from Jay. This time the rebound fell to Jayden Richardson, who failed to hit the target.

United were still struggling to find their rhythm at the start of the second half, but City were unable to trouble Stevens.

Their clearest opening fell to Jay, but the fact it was a weak shot from 25 yards says everything about the excitement levels for the small crowd huddled into one stand at St James Park.

It took until the 71st minute for the travelling fans to have anything to shout about, when Forde’s classy control and volley 25 yards out worried Visser but bounced just wide.

The effort stirred the visitors into a decent spell, but when Alex Gorrin latched on to a loose ball in the box he could not pick out a teammate with his cut back.

Jamie Hanson had come on for his first action since September, but a shoot-out had loomed since the start of a second half where the temperature plummeted towards zero.

Fabio Lopes replaced Agyei late on as United looked to pinch the tie in normal time, but the home side looked more like nicking it during the final stages as Stevens fielded a couple of crosses.

The goalkeeper was unable to come up with a save in the shoot-out, while he looked on as a trio of teammates were denied.

Exeter C (4-4-2): Visser, Dyer, Parkers, Woodman (Sparkes 65), Richardson, Jay, Tillson, Kite, Randall, Fisher (Seymour 62), L Martin (Sweeney 65).

Unused subs: Maxted, Law, Williams, Bowman.

Booked: Tillson.

Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Stevens, Long (Mousinho 90), Dickie, Moore, Ruffels, Gorrin, Forde, Sykes, Hall, Mackie (Hanson 68), Agyei (Lopes 84).

Unused subs: Harris, Cadden, Stevens, Jones.

Booked: Mackie.

Referee: Kevin Johnson (Somerset).

Attendance: 483 (130 visitors).