OXFORD United ground out a point in difficult circumstances as Danny Hylton's penalty saw them come from behind at Roots Hall.

The visitors trailed to Jack Payne's precise strike in a first half where they also lost Joe Riley and Junior Brown to injuries.

A fifth defeat in six Sky Bet League Two games looked on the cards, but they showed character to battle back into the game and gain the upper hand.

Their play merited at least an equaliser, which arrived via the excellent Hylton, who won and converted a spot kick.

United went in search of a winner as Southend were left hanging on, but the visitors' satisfaction at a hard-earned point will be tempered by a third injury, this time to Will Hoskins, who was stretchered off.

The team sheet showed three changes to the United side which started Tuesday night's trip to Cheltenham.

Johnny Mullins came in for Michael Raynes, Alex Jakubiak was preferred to Alfie Potter and Danny Rose replaced Michael Collins, whose baby daughter fell ill overnight.

The tone for the opening 20 minutes was set inside the first 20 seconds, when George Long palmed Payne's swerving shot round the post.

United had difficulty getting the ball to stick up front, giving Southend plenty of opportunities to get forward.

Myles Weston bent one shot wide, before Long saved well when Shaquile Coulthirst headed John White's cross downwards.

It took until midway through the half for the visitors to show any spark going forward.

Jakubiak, back after playing for Scotland under 19s in midweek, collected a forward pass and skipped away from two challenges before shooting tamely at Daniel Bentley.

United's best spell came in a five-minute period either side of the half-hour mark.

Brown got hold of a shot from range which was too close to Bentley, but a far better chance arrived a minute later.

Rose intercepted a mis-placed pass from Bentley and fed Will Hoskins, who had a clear route to goal but shot wide from just inside the box.

On 34 minutes, Brown crossed to the back post for an unmarked Johnny Mullins to head powerfully on target, but Bentley parried at his near post.

However, just as they were getting on top, United conceded.

A White cross from the right was not dealt with, allowing Conor Clifford to tee up Payne, whose 20-yard shot crept inside the far post.

It was a big blow to the visitors, who had already lost Joe Riley to injury.

They were forced into another reshuffle during an edgy finish to the half, as Junior Brown came off, replaced by Callum O'Dowda.

The interval offered United welcome respite and after a shaky start to the second half, they began to grow into the game.

Bentley was twice called upon in less than a minute to show why he is such a highly-rated goalkeeper.

First, Tom Newey got forward and crossed for Hylton to catch a left-footed volley sweetly.

Bentley parried it smartly behind and was alert enough to deny United's No 10 from the resulting corner, tipping his shot over.

The home side began to give the ball away cheaply and the visitors took advantage.

Hylton made the difference on 66 minutes, embarking on a mazy run into the box and catching Luke Prosser's outstretched leg.

Southend protested the striker had gone down easily, but United did not care as Hylton swept in the penalty for his sixth goal of the season.

United looked the more likely to go on and win the game, but their hopes of building on the equaliser were hit when they had to make yet another change.

Hoskins went down clutching his groin after shooting off balance and the striker, still playing his way back to fitness, was stretchered off.

That, plus a lengthy stoppage to treat an injury to Clifford, saw eight minutes added on at the end of normal time.

There were nervous moments for both defences, but no breakthrough as the spoils were shared.

Southend Utd: Bentley, White, Thompson, Prosser, Coker, Atkinson, Clifford, Leonard (Hurst 73), Payne (Worrall 61), Coulthirst (Corr 69),Weston.

Unused subs: P Smith, Ibenfeldt, Barnard, Deegan.

Oxford Utd: G Long, Riley (Hunt 32), Mullins, Wright, Newey, Rose, Ruffels, Jakubiak, Hoskins (Potter 78), Brown (O'Dowda 41), Hylton.

Unused subs: Crocombe, Raynes, Morris, Ashby.

Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire).

Attendance: 5,315 (424 visitors).