JAMES Henry hailed a flash of genius from Marcus Browne which meant Oxford United got the job done in their play-off semi-final first leg at Portsmouth.

The key for the visitors was to come away from Fratton Park with a fighting chance of reaching the Sky Bet League One showpiece at Wembley heading into Monday’s second leg at the Kassam Stadium.

A slow start meant the tie threatened to get away from them, but Henry felt falling behind helped refocus United.

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And they hit back in fine style thanks to Browne’s run from the halfway line and precise finish, which earned a 1-1 draw.

Henry said: “We were disappointed with the way we started, we didn’t impose our style on the game whatsoever.

“It took a little rocket in their goal to get us going.

“Browney does what Browney does, it’s a magical goal and after that we steadied the ship.

“Everyone just wants to still be in the tie.

“It’s a tough place to come, they haven’t lost here in the league all season and we’re going back to our place level-pegging, which sets us up just great.”

It was a terrific way to get the side going, four months after their last competitive game.

And despite their detailed preparation, Henry felt United played into Pompey’s hands early on.

He said: “We knew what they were going to do and we let them do it.

“But then we started getting a bit braver and getting on the ball and making some good passes. The game opened up a little bit for us after that.”

In that early period Rob Dickie survived two penalty shouts, with the first appearing to strike his arm.

Pompey also had two strong claims for a spot kick after the break, which under normal circumstances the vociferous home support might have been able to sway the officials.

“I expect so,” Henry said.

“It’s a fantastic stadium with fantastic support.

“They had a few corners towards the end and they could have sucked it in if they had 20-odd thousand here.

“But equally we won’t have our fans on Monday.”

The final shout came in stoppage time, when Pompey goalscorer Ronan Curtis went down after Dan Agyei appeared to clip his heels.

The Irishman was adamant it should have been a spot kick.

He said: “It’s a shambles. We had three or four penalty shouts.

“The one in the last minute he clipped my heels – it’s either a yellow card to me (for diving) or one for him and a penalty.

“It’s fine margins, but it’s just unlucky. We battered them.”