In conditions that could almost be described as summery United visited Didcot's npower Loop Meadow for their second friendly of pre-season. Deane Smalley put United ahead in the 77th minute, but six minutes later the sides were level when Denilson Vincente capitalized on a goalkeeping error.
As on Tuesday night, United fielded almost two different teams in each half, other than the goalkeeper, trialist centre-back Ryan Tafazoli and Adam Chapman, who was the midfield lynchpin in the first half and right-back in the second. Another player who featured in both halves was former Everton forward Femi Orenuga, who was substituted for Tyrone Marsh after seven minutes. This time it was Wayne Brown's turn between the sticks.
It didn't take United too long to impose themselves and after a decent period of possession the impressive Jake Forster-Caskey had the first attempt with an angled drive in the 6th minute. On 16 Constable was played through and his left-footed effort required a fingertip save from Marco Belloli to prevent the ball from sneaking in at the far post. Constable was in the thick of the action again when he rounded off a long period of Oxford passing with a spectacular overhead kick that just cleared the bar on 21.
In the 29th minute a delicate chip into the danger area by Orenuga was just missed by Craddock when a touch would surely have resulted in a goal. With 10 minutes to the interval Constable again burst clear, with Belloli doing well to come out and block the shot. Constable latched onto the rebound and his follow-up cross-shot was cleared off the line. A minute later Orenuga's weaving run ended with him shooting against the outside of the post. As half-time approached Constable did well to play Craddock in, but his lay back was cut out and the teams went into the break level.
A new-look United started the second half on the front foot, and after three minutes Orenuga won a corner with a long-range deflected shot. A couple of good pieces of skill from Smalley came to nothing and the home side almost took a surprise lead on the hour when a wayward pass from Chapman fell to Anaclet Odhiambo, brother of former United defender Eddie, but Brown made a one-handed save to keep the scores level.
At the other end, long-range efforts from Simon Heslop and Sean Rigg arrowed just wide, and then a wriggling run from Tyrone Marsh bounced off the post into the keeper's arms. Cox showed what he will bring to the team with a fantastic tackle in the centre circle to halt a Didcot break while at the other end the U's continued to probe, with Marsh blasting over after he latched on to a rebound from a blocked Rigg effort.
Oxford got the breakthrough in the 77th minute after a surging run from Marsh. He released the ball to Rigg on the edge of the area and his cross across the face of goal was a tap-in for Smalley, who has now scored in successive games. A minute later Smalley was helping out the defence to clear a Didcot corner.
In the 84th minute the home side equalized when Denilson Vincente was on hand to prod home after Brown spilled a cross. United responded well with Tafazoli going close with a header and Chapman putting in a dangerous cross, but the winner failed to materialize.
Although Oxford will be disappointed not to have won, they will take heart from the quality of their approach play and passing as the players clocked up more minutes on the road to match fitness for when the season starts in just under a month.
United (first half): Brown, Batt, Raynes, Tafazoli, Capaldi, Chapman, Harris, Forster-Caskey, Orenuga, Constable, Craddock
United (second half): Brown, Chapman, Evans, Tafazoli, McGinty, Heslop, Cox, McAllister, Orenuga (Marsh), Smalley, Rigg