KARL Robinson felt Oxford United’s work ethic shone through as they rallied to beat Crewe Alexandra.

James Henry’s 34th-minute penalty proved the difference at the Kassam Stadium, on a night when Nathan Holland, Ryan Williams and Billy Bodin all went off injured.

United are yet to discover the extent of the damage to each player, but they at least held out for a 1-0 win that leaves them on seven points from their first three Sky Bet League One games.

Read the match report here

Robinson was impressed by his side’s attitude, despite a display that started and ended poorly.

He said: “I did the team talk on the pitch (at full-time), so I could tell them there’s nothing I can say to make them feel any better for their performance.

“They know we were under par.

“The players showed tremendous desire.

“I thought the midfield three were immense, and Luke McNally and Jordan Thorniley were top-drawer.

“Other players around them fell a bit short, they know that, but when they weren’t playing well they fought.

“That’s a good sign.”

Holland made his first start of his second U’s spell, but came off after just 16 minutes following a knock.

United took until the half-hour mark to get going and Henry broke the deadlock, only to see Williams and Bodin – in for his home debut – exit with injuries.

Robinson said: “We’ve got a lot of patching up to do, I don’t know to what extent yet.

“I hope they’re not too bad and we have bodies available for the game on Saturday.”

The U’s moved to a 3-1-4-2 formation for the final 15 minutes and were slightly fortunate not to concede an equaliser, with Regan Griffiths and Rio Adebisi missing good chances.

But they closed out victory to record two wins in the first month of the season for the first time under Robinson, at the fourth attempt.

The U’s head coach added: “We rode our luck with the chance in the last minute, but other than that I thought we were quite comfortable for large parts of the game.

“When you’re not as good as you should be, it’s just about working hard.

“The fans and the players stuck together and that’s what got us over the line.”

McNally added: “It wasn’t our best performance, we didn’t play as well as we know we can.

“But if you come off the pitch with three points you can’t complain.”