KARL Robinson was full of praise for his Oxford United players despite knowing they should have knocked Watford out of the Carabao Cup.

The underdogs had the chances to put the second-round tie to bed before half-time, after Rob Hall’s stunning opener.

But a chaotic second half saw the Hornets reduced to ten men, with Marc Navarro picking up an injury after the visitors had made their three substitutes.

Report: Oxford United pegged back by Watford to lose on penalties

United though had problems of their own, losing John Mousinho to a knock which led to a makeshift back four that conceded an 88th-minute equaliser to Ken Sema.

In the resulting shoot-out, Daniel Bachmann made three stops as the Championship side won 3-0 to secure a third-round trip to Newport County next week.

But Robinson was upbeat, despite not going through, as a much-changed line-up pushed their claims to play against Sunderland in Sky Bet League One at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.

He said: “At times we were different class.

“That’s a Premier League budget up against us and you wouldn’t have a clue about the difference. I’m so proud of my players.

“Watford went down to ten men, but I didn’t know who our back four was.

“It was always going to be the case we were vulnerable because there were an awful lot of players who were in uncomfortable positions.”

He added: “If I was being critical, we had three or four chances on Saturday (a 2-0 defeat at Lincoln City) and didn’t take them.

“We had three or four again and didn’t take them. We’ve got to get into that habit of putting teams to the sword.

“But I think you’ve seen a fluidity to our play.”

Goalkeeper Jack Stevens was among those brought into the side who stood out, making several strong saves before finally being beaten in flukey fashion.

He said: “I came out to affect the first shot and he sliced it. It fell perfectly for (Sema), it was very fortunate for them.

“It’s bittersweet. I feel like I did OK in the game, but at this level it’s all about results.

“I’m gutted we haven’t been able to get across the line. It’s hard to take in the last minute after making a few saves.”

Stevens added: “We were just trying to see the game out.

“Watford are a top team and knock it about well.

“We were just trying to stay organised and unfortunately it just fell to them.

“On another day we see that out and it would have been a great win.”

Robinson singled out Bachmann for special praise after the away side’s stopper made a string of saves in normal time, before excelling in the shoot-out.

He said: “The keeper was different class.

“I thought he was their best player, which shows how good we were.”