Rob Duffy struck his 18th and 19th goals of the season, but Oxford United still couldn't chalk up their first win in seven Nationwide Conference games as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Grays on Saturday.

It was especially frustrating for Jim Smith's men as they led for two-thirds of the match.

Duffy fired them in front in the fourth minute after excellent control on his chest and a right-footed shot on the turn, and with Latvian striker Kris Grebis working hard on his debut, the U's looked comfortable and in charge.

But they conceded a poor goal in the 62nd minute when Glenn Poole's shot deflected off Duffy to leave Billy Turley wrong-footed.

Duffy then restored Oxford's lead from the penalty spot, his eighth success in eight attempts, after Yemi Odubade had been brought down by Grays keeper Ashley Bayes just moments after coming on as a sub.

Yet United let it slip again as Turley, who was troubled by a leg injury, punched out a free-kick that he could easily have caught, and Tom Williamson rifled in a 25-yard drive into the top left corner.

At the start, all eyes were on Grebis, wearing the No 27 shirt.

Playing off the shoulder, he was always looking to spin past the Grays back line, and it wasn't long before he began to link well with Duffy.

United made the perfect start by taking such an early lead, which owed much to Barry Quinn's quick thinking and some brilliant forward play by Oxford's leading scorer.

It originated from a poorly-hit free-kick by Danny Rose, who was unable to bypass the first man.

But Quinn reached the loose ball first and played a delightful through pass towards Duffy, who controlled it well on his chest and then swivelled to strike a low, right-footed shot past the keeper and into the far bottom corner of the goal.

Oxford's fans were packing the terrace behind that goal and as the ball hit the net, 800 arms rose towards the sky.

It was the first league game in which the U's had taken the lead since Tamworth in late November.

And they almost got a second two minutes later.

This time Rose's quick free-kick released Eddie Anaclet and his driven low cross was cleared off the line by Jamie Stuart.

Going forward, Oxford appeared to have more purpose about their game, and they were pressing well and closing down the Grays players.

Duffy won some good headers and his combinations with Grebis were coming off, the Latvian backheeling cleverly on one occasion to set up a shooting chance, only for Duffy to screw his 20-yarder wide.

United were having to show good concentration at the back and it needed a great defensive header from Quinn, from Andy Sambrook's overhead kick and with a Grays player coming in on the end of it, had he missed, to keep the visitors ahead at half-time.

A brave defensive clearance by Rufus Brevett at the start of the second half set the tone as the home side pressed hard for an equaliser.

Grays started to win more possession and centre back Gavin Cowan planted a header wide at a corner.

Duffy climbed head and shoulders above his marker to meet Quinn's high free-kick with a powerful header, which flashed just wide of the far post.

When Grays equalised, it was messy. It came from a poor corner, which like the visitors' goal, failed toi beat the first man.

But it was played back in and Poole deflected it fortuitously past a helpless Turley.

However, the U's responded well, keeping the ball and controlling play once again.

Grebis was booked, harshly it seemed, for leaving his elbow in, according to the ref, when he challenged for an aerial ball. And when he was subbed, moments later, the Oxford fans gave him a big ovation.

His replacement, Odubade, immediately offered a different dimension with his pace.

And on 72 minutes, chasing after a ball played into the box from Carl Pettefer, he surprised everyone by getting to it first and going over the challenge of the keeper.

The ref pointed straight away for a penalty, although the linesman nearby wasn't so sure.

Up stepped Duffy, and calm as you like, he rolled it into the bottom left of the goal as Bayes dived the other way.

That should have been the points wrapped up.

Yet nine minutes from the end, Grays made it 2-2.

Rose gave away a needless free-kick near the left touchline. Turley punched away the free-kick, which he could have caught, and Williamson rifled an unstoppable drive into the top corner.

It was another point for Oxford. But after the way the game had gone, it felt like a defeat.