Yemi Odubade struck twice in two minutes in the second half last night - but Oxford United's hopes of a third victory of the season against Dagenham were dashed by a 90th-minute equaliser from the champions-elect.

It means the Daggers remain 11 points clear with seven games left, while United have just six matches to play.

Odubade's second goal was a bit special, even if it owed a lot to a big blunder from Daggers' veteran keeper Tony Roberts.

Roberts came charging out of his goal to try to chest the ball clear, did that but then made a hash of his clearance and Odubade latched onto it, and hit a superb long-range volley with his left foot from nearly 30 yards into the open goal.

The former Eastbourne Borough striker, who was booked for taking off his shirt in celebration, had hauled the U's level just moments earlier with a powerful right-footed drive.

He almost single-handedly turned the game around after Dagenham had taken a first-half lead through the prolific Paul Benson.

Odubade's double looked like giving United the double over their championship rivals.

But some sloppy defensive play in the final minute was punished by substitute Sam Sloma, who drilled a shot under Billy Turley after a succession of failed attempts to clear the ball.

It began with Barry Quinn slicing a clearance high into the sky.

Daggers pounced on it, and after appeals for a penalty when Luke Foster appeared to control the ball on his chest with the help of a hand, it was played out to Sloma on the left, and he made no mistake.

For the first time this season, Jim Smith had tried a 3-4-3 formation, using Odubade, Chris Zebroski and Andy Burgess as a pacy front three, and declining the opportunity to recall Rob Duffy, who was available again following his two-match ban.

Dagenham started the game just as one would expect from a team 11 points clear at the top and having won their last five away games.

They were full of confidence and purpose, with plenty of movement and they pressed United back from an early stage.

Ben Strevens hit a volley over the bar before they forced the game's first corner in the fifth minute, a wicked inswinging corner from Glen Southam only just evaded Dave Rainford's head four yards out.

United eventually began to pass the ball tidily and to find Burgess, hugging the left touchline, and invariably in plenty of space.

When United too forced a corner, driven across goal by Burgess, Luke Foster met it with a firm header which cleared Roberts' bar.

There was a good atmosphere inside the ground though the home supporters were quietened when Daggers netted from a soft goal in the 17th minute.

Unable to clear the ball in defence, they allowed Jake Leberl to fire in a low shot from ten yards which Turley saved by his near post, but couldn't hold, and Benson, inevitably, was the one who reacted quickest to rifle in the rebound from three yards for his 25th goal of the season.

The U's, stunned by the goal, took some time to mount a response, but eventually did so, from an unlikely source - a Burgess header following a knock-on from Zebroski.

New loan signing Zebroski then produced some superb footwork to earn a free-kick on the edge of the box, but Burgess couldn't beat the wall with the free-kick.

Benson demonstrated why he is the Conference's leading scorer with an instinctive piece of skill, controlling a defensive clearance on his knee and then smashing an angled volley just over from 16 yards.

And before half-time, Turley was called into action to deal with a drive from Strevens, after a scramble in the box.

Smith changed United's line-up at half-time, replaced Danny Rose with Chris Hargreaves at half-time, and gave Burgess more of a free role.

Burgess began the half on the right wing, but it wasn't long before he was picked out by a midfield pass in a more central position, and he had a crack with his left foot, drove wide from 25 yards.

In the 48th minute, though, the former Rushden man really should have scored.

Odubade's great run down the right, in which he left Scott Griffiths for dead down the right, before producing a great cut-back.

But Burgess, running in from deep, shot against the top of the crossbar when he should have found the net.

For a brief spell, Odubade was on fire and he forced Roberts into a save with an angled left-footed shot.

Midway through the second half, Smith brought on twin strikers Rob Duffy and Marvin Robinson, and within three minutes, Odubade had fired Oxford level.

The ball found its way across to him on the right. He at first delayed with a shot, but then smashed it low through a crowd of players and past a somewhat static Roberts from 20 yards.

That was the prelude to Yemi's even better strike two minutes later.

With the home fans now buoyant, chanting Jim Smith's Yellow Army, further chances came the home side's way.

Hargreaves was only denied by a great tackle from Dave Rainford, and Luke Foster again went close with a header at a corner.

But hopes of a morale-boosting three points were undone by some poor defensive play and that sloppy late goal.