Oxford 2 City 2

TRIPS to the City of Dreaming Spires proved a nightmare for the Bantams last season.

Two defeats and a ridiculously late postponement identified Oxford as their most uncomfortable stop on an otherwise stress-free journey to the play-off final.

But last night delivered delicious karma.

The Bantams seemed to be heading to familiar disappointment as the game entered the final of four added minutes.

Then Nicky Law found the energy for one last cross – and Romain Vincelot produced a captain's effort to bullet home the header for a precious point.

Coming on the back of the win at Peterborough, it made for a very satisfying few days on the road for Stuart McCall – even if he had seen his side lose an earlier advantage.

McCall had talked about freshening things up to avoid fatigue after the weekend's splendid efforts.

So despite scoring his third away goal at Peterborough, Dominic Poleon found himself on the bench with Omari Patrick handed a first league start since the Blackburn loss.

It proved a managerial masterstroke as the rookie striker came up with another special goal.

Adam Chicksen's enforced absence also meant a return for Tom Field at left back. The Brentford loanee responded strongly against the toughest side City have faced so far.

Oxford, like the Bantams, had been in the goals with 19 from their previous eight games.

So it had the makings of an open game and both sides were quick to try their luck. Joe Rothwell dragged a 25-yarder wide before Charlie Wyke skewed a shot on the turn from Alex Gilliead's low cross into the box.

Nathaniel Knight-Percival won all the early challenges with Wes Thomas but then the one-time Bantams loanee beat him with a flick to set up Rob Hall.

He found room for a shot which Colin Doyle beat out before Field was on hand to clear the danger.

The confidence in both sides was clear as they popped the ball about neatly despite the heavy rain that swirled around the ground.

Doyle did well to claw away a James Henry header before Oxford were screaming for a penalty.

Jake Reeves conceded possession to Thomas and Hall burst into the box before going down under Knight-Percival's challenge. It looked a justified shout but referee Chris Sarginson ignored the home appeals.

Oxford were beginning to take a grip on things and the elusive Hall found space for a long-range effort which flew past the far post.

But just when it appeared City were getting pressed back, they struck in spectacular fashion.

Wyke diverted Tony McMahon's low cross over the bar before Patrick took matters into his own hands after a turn and run from Law.

The youngster picked up the ball just inside the corner of the box and had only one thing on his mind, curling an unstoppable effort beyond Simon Eastwood and into the top corner.

It was Patrick's third strike in City colours – and even better than the opening-day cracker against Blackpool that had earned him the club's goal of the month for August.

He celebrated with a piggy-back from Matt Kilgallon, something that is becoming just as much of a trademark.

Oxford pushed for a quick response and Jack Payne, who has been involved in half of their goals so far this season on loan from Huddersfield, broke into City territory.

He was blocked off and then Hall was similarly frustrated as a wall of claret and amber shirts kept the back door firmly shut to ensure their lead remained intact going into half-time.

The fillip of that Patrick strike had put a spring in the visitors' step and the 403 travelling fans in the 6,558 crowd made themselves heard.

Oxford, in contrast, were still arguing about the penalty that got away and Hall continued his protests with the officials as the teams headed off at the break.

The winger remained the chief threat to City but the conditions undid him at the start of the second half as he lost his footing while advancing into the box.

Hall slipped over again when taking on Law but still managed to regain his balance and whip in a cross that Doyle watched carefully clear his goalmouth.

Oxford were upping the pressure and McMahon gave the ball straight to Payne, whose skidding 20-yarder was well held by Doyle.

Joe Rothwell then tried to play in Thomas but Knight-Percival's sliding interception was perfectly timed.

City bounced to the other end – where only the woodwork denied Patrick a second goal.

Alex Gilliead got round Ricardinho and pulled it back for Reeves by the penalty spot. His attempt to shoot was smothered by the lunging Ledson but the ball ran loose to Patrick, who smashed it against the bar.

A second goal then would have knocked the stuffing out of the hosts, who looked to make the most of their life.

Payne's clever pass again sent Thomas scampering but the striker's heavy touch allowed the impressive Knight-Percival to win the foul and clear up once more.

Substitute Gino Van Kessel lashed an ambitious long-range effort that was so off-kilter it turned into a pin-point pass to Hall on the right wing. He cut inside for a shot but it lacked any power to worry City.

Oxford's increasing urgency got its reward though on 74 minutes.

After Van Kessel's terrible loosener, the Dutchman got his sights right with a shot deflected off Knight-Percival and Doyle could only parry. Thomas was first to the rebound to pounce from close range.

Gilliead, having another lively game, was not far over with a bender from outside the Oxford D before McCall changed both frontmen. Patrick deserved the standing ovation from the City fans.

But just like City's league visit last season, there was to be a sting in the tail.

With three minutes to go, Van Kessel claimed another assist as Rothwell ran on to his pass and coolly slotted the ball beyond Doyle.

Van Kessel had the chance to seal things with a third in added time but the keeper palmed it away.

Time still looked up for the visitors – but then Law lofted a cross into the mix and Vincelot threw himself at it to convert.

Two efforts on target from City, two goals – and a significant point on a ground where they have only known misery.