Karl Robinson hailed his “incredible” players after they came from behind to win 3-2 at Shrewsbury and take the League One play-off race into the final day of the season.
Elliot Lee’s opener was cancelled out by strikes from Matthew Pennington and Josh Vela.
But with their play-off hopes in the balance the U’s battled back, and James Henry’s leveller was followed by substitute Dan Agyei’s late winner, leaving them one point behind sixth-placed Portsmouth.
Robinson said: “My players are just incredible. We found ourselves behind and there were some very strong words at half-time.
“But we had control, it was important not to panic and twist too soon and I’m really happy for the players, they’ve come back from a difficult place at half-time.
“Jack Stevens’ saves late on were outstanding, and I’m just delighted with how the players have conducted themselves today.
“We’ve got 71 points now and that in itself, whatever happens next week, is incredible.
“If we win next week and get to 74 and that isn’t enough then it’s still a tremendous achievement from us.
“Ourselves and Portsmouth were in the play-offs last season, haven’t had a break and we’re still going strong, and now it goes to the last day.
“Seventy four, even 72, has been enough in recent years, and to take it down to the last game is exceptional.”
The game saw Shrews manager Steve Cotterill return to the ground for the first time in four months, following a lengthy battle with coronavirus.
Stand-in boss Aaron Wilbraham explained Cotterill’s return lifted the side, but their busy schedule ultimately caught up with them.
He said: “It was massive to have the manager back. It was great to see the lads’ faces when they arrived at the game and saw him for the first time.
“The gaffer was a bit overwhelmed and nervous but was soon back in bantering the lads, and he held a special meeting before the game.
“He sat amongst the lads and talked about how hard the last four months has been, and just told them to appreciate life really, and it was so great to have him back.
“The result was hard to take, but I thought the lads were excellent today and the manager being here gave them a huge lift.
“It got to 70 minutes and you could see that we’d had a midweek game and they hadn’t, they had more legs than us.
“But the shift the lads put in was massive, we didn’t let the early goal impact us, we showed great character to come back into the game, and we deserved something from it.”