DANNY Hylton revealed a half-time blast from Oxford United head coach Michael Appleton was the key to a vastly-improved performance as they hit back to claim a 1-1 draw at Southend United.

The visitors were second best in the opening 45 minutes, during which Jack Payne opened the scoring for the Shrimpers.

United were staring at a fifth defeat in six Sky Bet League Two games, and the performance prompted an angry response from Appleton.

Whatever the U’s boss said did the trick and they went on to control the second half, drawing level through a Hylton penalty.

The goalscorer said: “He gave us a kick up the backside and rightly so.

“We were poor and didn’t get going.

“We were second to everything and it was like we’d never met each other.

“But credit to everyone, we came out and looked a completely different team, we dominated for the whole second half and were unlucky not to win.”

It was an unusual outburst from Appleton, whose style is much more calm and collected.

It was the first time he had laid into the side since taking over and Johnny Mullins admitted that made the half-time rocket all the more forceful.

He said: “I’ve played for a few that are mad, but I think it holds a lot more power when it’s done occasionally.

“I played for Steve Evans (at Rotherham) and we could be 3-0 up and he’d be shouting at you.

“That loses its effect, but this had a lot of effect and it worked.”

For Hylton, it was his sixth goal in nine appearances for United.

The 25-year-old won the penalty himself, going down after a challenge from Luke Prosser.

Southend’s players complained the striker had gone to ground too easily, something he rejected after the game.

“When you’re running at some speed it only takes a nudge or a little clip to make you go down,” he said.

“I felt contact and I’ve gone down. The ref said to me it was a penalty and that’s all that matters.”

It provided an upbeat finish to a day which had begun on a low note.

Michael Collins missed the game after his baby daughter fell ill on Friday night.

“That puts football and everything else into perspective,” said Mullins.

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