Level after the away leg and with the derby against Liverpool looming next Monday, Walter Smith opted to leave most of his first-choice side in the stand or on the bench and found that Malcolm Shotton's team were only too eager to seize the initiative.
They had a couple of nervous moments near the end, after Smith had introduced a few potential goalscorers into the proceedings, but were good value overall for victory in a competition which, lest it be forgotten, they won in 1986.
Oxford are better remembered on Merseyside as the team against whom Everton's fortunes turned at the Manor Ground a couple of years earlier, a late equaliser saving Howard Kendall's job and setting the scene for the club's last golden era. Coming at a time when they have been motoring smoothly in the Premiership, they must hope that this result does not have a similarly dramatic effect on their fortunes.
An Everton line-up featuring three players making their first appearances of the season started brightly enough, with long-range efforts from Alex Cleland and Gareth Farrelly, the second of them a deflected free-kick that demanded what turned out to be the only difficult save of the night from Andre Arendse.
But Beauchamp had already skimmed Everton's crossbar by way of warning before he struck the vital goal. He latched on to a header from Matt Murphy and left Steve Simonsen with no chance of keeping a clean sheet on his home debut.
Smith responded to Everton's woeful lack of firepower at half-time by bringing on the pairing that has had much to do with making them the third highest scorers in the Premiership. There were a few hints of a galvanising effect, especially when Kevin Campbell almost put Francis Jeffers through on goal, but the feeling grew that Everton had conceded too much of the initiative and would not be able to wrest its back. But in the end it was Oxford who went closer, Murphy coming within inches of getting a touch to Steve Anthrobus's cross for a second goal.
There was a moment of unease when Arendse was hurt in a goal-mouth scramble, and again in injury-time when Steve Davis fouled Campbell on the edge of the area and Mitch Ward, captain of this makeshift Everton outfit for the night, put his free-kick just over the bar.
Yet a sparse Goodison crowd had seen justice done. However Smith shuffled his hand, the impression remained that one team wanted to win this more than the other. Smith defended his team selection afterwards: "Nobody likes losing, but I had reasons and those reasons are still relevant."
Everton (4-4-2): Simonsen; Cleland, Dunne, Weir, Ball; Degn (Jeffers, h-t), Ward, Gemmill, Farrelly (Barmby, 75); Jevons (Campbell, h-t), Cadamarteri. Substitutes not used: O'Kane, Gerrard (gk).
Oxford United (4-4-2): Arendse; Robinson, Lewis, Davis, Powell; Folland, Tait, Sear, Beauchamp; Murphy, Anthrobus (Lilley, 88).
Substitutes not used: Cook, Lambert, McGowan, Lundin (gk).
Referee: A Wilkie (Co Durham).Reuse content