KARL Robinson’s tenure at Oxford United reached two years this weekend.

On March 22, 2018, he took over the reins at the end of a whirlwind 24 hours which had seen him start the day as Charlton Athletic boss.

“This is a long-term plan in my view,” he said at the time.

“I was at MK Dons for seven years and I don’t think I’m a quick-fix man.

“There’s a methodology behind things and a philosophy that’s very clear.

“It’s about good habits and a good work ethic. These take time to integrate.”

It has certainly been an eventful 24 months packed with highs and lows – and we have picked out five games which have defined his U’s reign so far.

April 21, 2018

Doncaster Rovers 0, Oxford United 1

Robinson made a big impression on the day he arrived, firing up a fanbase which was becoming disillusioned.

However, the honeymoon period did not last long, losing 3-0 at Portsmouth in his opening game.

United lost four of his first seven matches in charge, which meant a month into his role, the pressure was on.

GALLERY: Karl Robinson marks two years at Oxford United

Having taken over with the side 16th in Sky Bet League One, five points above the relegation zone, they headed to Doncaster 17th and only four points from the trapdoor.

It included a 1-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic four days earlier, where Robinson had left out four key players.

He had gambled on effectively sacrificing the midweek game in favour of maximising United’s chances at the Keepmoat Stadium.

While the performance was scrappy, the plan worked a treat.

James Henry, who has scored almost twice as many goals for Robinson as anyone else, headed in the only goal of the game.

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  • James Henry celebrates scoring the winner at Doncaster Rovers with Ryan Ledson   Picture: James Williamson

The midfielder, of course, had been one of the quartet rested against Wigan.

Robinson said: “As a manager sometimes you have to make brave decisions.

“Sometimes I’ve done it and looked an absolute fool – it doesn’t always work.

“You need a bit of luck and we rode it as well.”

October 13, 2018

Oxford United 2, Plymouth Argyle 0

The win at Doncaster sealed United’s safety, but by the following autumn they were deep in trouble again.

A solitary win from the opening 12 games left them rock bottom of League One.

Up next was a clash with second-bottom Plymouth, where defeat would have cut the U’s four points adrift and the strains were showing.

Robinson had used the build-up to complain about losing Gavin Whyte to international duty.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill responded, saying the U’s boss “should maybe think before he speaks”.

The row summed up the fraught atmosphere, but when he needed them most, his big players stepped up.

Jamie Mackie calmed the nerves with his first U’s goal inside four minutes.

A fit-again Simon Eastwood kept a clean sheet, while Curtis Nelson added a second goal to seal a priceless victory which began a climb out of danger.

Banbury Cake:

  • Jamie Mackie gets a standing ovation after scoring one goal and making the other in United's precious win over Plymouth

March 16, 2019

Oxford United 1, Bradford City 0

The Plymouth game had come at the start of a run which saw United lose just once in a dozen league games.

But the start to the campaign had been so bad that any hiccup saw the side slip back into trouble.

A bad Christmas did just that, followed by another dodgy patch in February – where Robinson’s position again looked under threat after a defeat at Accrington Stanley.

With nine games left they were still in the relegation zone, when fellow strugglers Bradford City visited.

Just as against Plymouth, United came out on top – although in far more tense circumstances.

With the game goalless heading into stoppage time, Lewis O’Brien missed a golden chance to win it.

Rather than breathing a sigh of relief, United hit back.

Within seconds Mackie was again the hero, volleying in a sensational 94th-minute winner.

Banbury Cake:

  • Karl Robinson looks to calm the Bradford City players down

All hell then broke loose as Bradford claimed an infringement in the build-up, but the goal stood.

United climbed out of the bottom four and never looked back with six wins in seven, while the Bantams went down.

Robinson said: “If I was in the other dugout I’d be bitterly disappointed and I would feel very aggrieved and down, but I’m not and I’m extremely happy.”

December 18, 2019

Oxford United 1, Manchester City 3

Rarely can a defeat have felt so good.

A terrific first half of the season saw United play some terrific football to get into the League One promotion race.

They did it while embarking on a memorable Carabao Cup run to the quarter-finals, including a 4-0 thrashing of West Ham United.

It was the first time they had reached the last eight of a major competition since the 1980s.

An already big game against Manchester City was further charged by the death a week earlier of Jim Smith.

It made for an emotional night and the Kassam Stadium cannot have heard many louder roars than when Matty Taylor scored an equaliser seconds after half-time.

Although a strong City side hit back to go 3-1 up, the final 20 minutes were a joy to behold.

United pushed forward, creating a string of clear chances.

They rattled City’s megastars, who were playing for time in the closing stages.

While Pep Guardiola was full of compliments for the underdogs, Robinson dedicated the performance to Smith.

“It had everything he believed in – we showed heart, desire, commitment and we entertained,” he said.

“That’s all you can ask, so hopefully we’ve done him proud.”

March 7, 2020

Shrewsbury Town 2, Oxford United 3

While the cup runs were a bonus, it had become clear before the winter that the U’s were capable of mounting a realistic promotion challenge.

Somehow Robinson was able to coax them through a brutal February schedule which would have crushed many sides’ hopes.

Instead of merely hanging in the race, the U’s incredibly strengthened their position.

Banbury Cake:

  • Karl Robinson talks to Shrewsbury boss Sam Ricketts before the game

A four-game winning streak looked set to end in Shropshire, though, as Shrewsbury Town raced into a 2-0 lead.

But a red card for Josh Vela left the door ajar – and United kicked it in.

Marcus Browne and Dan Agyei struck to get them back on level terms, before Josh Ruffels headed in a late winner.

It saw the U’s leap to third in the table, just two points from the automatic promotion places.

Robinson would have been hoping to celebrate two years in charge with a victory at Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday.

But instead the suspension of daily life leaves the season tantalisingly frozen in time, waiting to be restarted.

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