Rob Duffy marked his return to the Oxford United side by converting a match-winning penalty ten minutes from time on Saturday as the Nationwide Conference leaders got back on track.

It took Jim Smith's men some time to play with the pace, urgency and tempo that had been a characteristic of their early-season form, but by the end of a one-sided second half they were looking the business again.

Just as well, too, that Duffy was there to bury his 13th goal of the season, planting his spot kick expertly in off the right post in front of what the fans still call the Oxford Mail Stand, because second-placed Dagenham & Redbridge continued their winning run by coming from behind in a delayed kick-off at York.

The spot-kick was awarded when Lambs substitute Graeme Law brought down Carl Pettefer.

That followed two appeals for a penalty for handball seconds earlier during a frantic spell of Oxford pressure as they strove hard for a winner.

The U's had taken the lead seven minutes after the break through another Matt Day special.

The defender, who had struck three goals from long-range before this season, advanced from left back and, despite being under pressure from a challenge, rifled a right-footed drive into the net with the aid of a deflection.

But Tamworth equalised ten minutes later to stun the 6,500-strong home supporters with Taiwo Atieno climbing unchallenged to head home a right-wing corner.

After losing their unbeaten record at Gravesend the previous week, United's confidence was slightly down at the start, but they soon returned to passing the ball better and spreading play well.

Smith had threatened to ring the changes after the lacklustre showing in Kent and he kept to his promise.

Steve Basham and Pettefer were both relegated to the bench, and with Phil Gilchrist and Rufus Brevett injured, it meant four changes to what had otherwise been a relatively settled side.

Duffy returned after missing two matches with a broken hand, and he partnered on-loan Grays striker Jamie Slabber up front.

But perhaps because they had two big men up front, there was an over-reliance on getting in crosses during the opening 45 minutes.

Eddie Anaclet, in particular, did well, frequently beating his man to deliver decent centres from the right, but Tamworth dealt with them well, alert keeper Jose Veiga impressively commanding his box.

The visitors had the first meaningful effort on goal, a break on the right leading to John McGrath firing in a left-footed drive which arced wide.

Eddie Hutchinson, back in Oxford's midfield, went close with a couple of headers, both off target, and Slabber had a chipped shot which proved meat and drink for Veiga.

Former Tamworth player Anaclet set up most of the home side's best attacks, and he delivered a great cross six minutes before the break. Duffy, arriving at the back post, headed downwards but Veiga was there to save.

Tamworth ended the first half strongly and, after Simon Heslop drove wide, Steve Burton was inches away from turning in a right-wing cross by Daryl Taylor.

Smith replaced Slabber and Hutchinson with Yemi Odubade and Pettefer for the second half, and Oxford immediately showed more attacking urgency.

They played at a higher tempo, and Day's spectacular goal brought them their reward.

But spirited Tamworth had come from behind to win their previous two games, and that belief helped them to respond quickly.

United pressed hard for a winner and the pressure was increasing all the time as Duffy and then Chris Willmott had headers blocked on the line.

Chris Hargreaves also twice went close, first with a header from Anaclet's cross, and then with a shot which produced a great save from Veiga.

Just before the end, Odubade almost made it 3-1 with a lightning-quick 50 yard run down the left. He cut in past two defenders, but Veiga stopped his fizzing low shot.