Matt Day struck his second stunning late winner this season to bring Oxford United a dramatic victory at Broadfield Stadium last night.

The defender showed his forwards and midfielders the way to do it with a brilliant 30-yard drive in the final minute.

The ball arrowed past Crawley keeper Ben Hamer and into the back of the net with such power there was a momentary silence around the ground as many fans couldn't believe it had gone in.

But it had, and it was the former Portsmouth player's second such strike - he'd done exactly the same at home to St Albans.

Until that moment, it looked as though the Nationwide Conference leaders had missed out on a chance to enhance their reputation.

Despite controlling the game for large parts, their ineffectiveness up front meant they looked like having to settle for a point when they were clearly the more accomplished outfit.

But, thanks to Day, Jim Smith's side extended their unbeaten start to the campaign to ten games and stretched their lead at the top to six points.

They should have scored in the 80th minute when they hit the bar twice in quick succession.

Andy Burgess headed Eddie Anaclet's right wing cross onto the woodwork, via keeper Hamer.

And when it dropped down, Yemi Odubade could only turn it against the frame of the goal again from a yard out.

Playing in their all-yellow strip, United were reinforced with Chris Hargreaves returning to central midfield after completing his three-game suspension, but skipper Phil Gilchrist was unable to play for the second time in three days following his recent Achilles injury.

Home manager John Hollins dropped former U's centre back Dave Woozley to the bench, an indication perhaps that he was worried about the player's lack of pace should he come up against Odubade.

Crawley's Broadfield Stadium, and the match, must have seemed a bit of a comedown for Sky Sports viewers after Sunday's double bill from fare Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford.

Oxford created the first opening with Burgess delivering a good cross that Hamer pawed away under pressure from Marvin Robinson.

However, it was Crawley who forced the first corner when Billy Turley had to push Pat Sappleton's speculative long-range lob over his crossbar, just to be safe.

Moments later, Jake Edwards tested Turley with a header.

The first half had already reached its midway point when, following a corner of their own, Oxford went close with Day powering a header over from Carl Pettefer's left-wing centre.

Robinson and Ben Judge needed treatment after an accidental clash of heads before normal service was soon resumed, with Jim Smith's men looking the neater side, and the more likely to score.

When Barry Quinn gave the ball away cheaply, United's defence was guilty of not going out to close down Dannie Bulman, who was allowed to advance dangerously and hit a low 25-yard drive that, fortunately for Turley, went straight at him.

Crawley then put together the best attacking move of the first, a slick interchange that ended withe Lee Blackburn driving just wide.

Day went close for a second time with a header at a corner just before half-time., keeper Hamer saving low.Great work by Steve Basham on the left then gave Robinson an opportunity, but Hamer dived.Burgess was starting to come into his own, his switching of play often stretching Crawley Basham should have done better when Eddie Anaclet, who had seen a lot of the ball, picked him out with a good cross. But the striker, who had scored in the previous three games, produced a half-hearted shot.

Rob Duffy replaced Basham on the hour, his first appearance since the St Albans game.

The U's managed to restrict Crawley to long-range efforts, though a couple of drives from Michael Bostwick probably caused Turley's heart to flutter.

By the 77th minute, Smith had brought on all three subs, adding Odubade and John Dempster to the action.

Odubade did almost find the net, but in general it had been a disappointing display in front of goal - until Day popped up.