THERE was relief all round as Oxford United ended their long wait for a league win at the expense of ten-man Accrington Stanley at the Kassam Stadium.

They did not end their seven-game winless run the easy way, conceding a sloppy goal to Marcus Carver immediately after Danny Hylton had opened the scoring.

But an outstanding long range finish from Michael Collins restored the advantage and the hosts' grip on the game tightened a minute later when James Gray was dismissed.

United were on top, but the victory was only sealed 19 minutes from time, when Tyrone Barnett opened his account for the club, who will be hoping the result kick-starts their season.

Brian Howard came straight into the starting line-up, 24 hours after signing a short-term contract with the club.

The 31-year-old played in the No 10 role behind Barnett, so Hylton moved to the right and Joe Riley switched to right back.

David Hunt was the player to miss out, dropping out of the squad altogether.

The debutant had the first sight of goal, curling a shot wide on eight minutes when a corner fell kindly.

United had made slow starts in their previous two games and hardly flew out of the blocks again.

They monopolised possession, but the vast majority of it was in their own half.

It took a moment of quality from Howard to lift United out of their slumber, on 15 minutes.

The midfielder cleverly turned and delayed a cross-field pass for Hylton, who controlled expertly and lashed in for his seventh goal of the season.

Barnett, making his home debut, also played his part, occupying Will Atkinson to prevent him getting across to Hylton.

But the celebrations were short-lived, as United shot themselves in the foot within 90 seconds.

An in-swinging cross from the left missed everyone and George Long could only parry the ball to Piero Mingoia, whose shot was turned in at the back post by Carver.

The striker was less than a yard out, but United's half-hearted appeals for offside fell on deaf ears.

It was a desperately poor goal to concede and the home fans became increasingly agitated at their side's laboured build-up play.

Midway through the half a minority of fans booed as the ball was played back to Long for the umpteenth time.

Part of the problem for United's back four lay in a lack of available options further forward, but it was true the tempo was not high enough.

Again they needed another flash of inspiration to get going, this time from Collins.

Eight minutes before the break Lumley came out to the right of his area, succeeding only in kicking straight to the United midfielder.

Collins had plenty to do 40 yards out, but he coolly trapped the ball and despatched a shot into the net as Lumley scrambled across his goal.

Within a minute United's prospects improved further, as Gray received a straight red card for lashing out at Johnny Mullins.

Callum O'Dowda came close to finishing off the half in style, forcing Lumley into a one-handed save with a sweetly-struck shot from range.

United started the second half on the front foot as they went in search of goals to kill the game off.

Nicky Hunt picked up a booking for bringing down O'Dowda early in the half, which was the cue for the Kidlington teenager to really enjoy himself.

Given more room than before the break, the winger increasingly began to bamboozle the veteran.

One attack saw him flick the ball over Hunt, before volleying wide on his right foot.

Another sweet effort from range worried Lumley, but flew inches wide.

Barnett then had the ball in the net, heading in Tom Newey's cross just after the hour, but it was ruled out for a push.

United's momentum was briefly halted by the concerning sight of Hylton limping off, acknowledging the crowd's standing ovation as he disappeared up the tunnel.

The impressive Howard swiftly followed, exhausted after his first game of the season.

Junior Brown and Alex Jakubiak provided the fresh legs and United were quickly celebrating some all-important breathing space.

A careless backpass from Stanley skipper Luke Joyce was pounced on by Barnett, who deftly rounded a startled Lumley and tapped into the net for his first U's goal.

It made sure of United's first league win of the season and all that remained was whether they could increase the margin of victory.

Brown came closest, cutting on to his left foot and whipping a shot which missed the top corner by a fraction.

The winger produced a carbon copy as the game headed into stoppage time, again missing out on a spectacular goal by the finest of margins.

It mattered little, as United's job for the night had already been accomplished.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): G Long, Riley, Mullins, Wright, Newey, Collins, Ruffels, Hylton, Howard, O'Dowda, Barnett.

Subs used: Brown (Hylton 64), Jalubiak (Howard 67), Morris (Barnett 81).

Unused subs: Crocombe, Raynes, Rose, Potter.

Booked: Hylton, Mullins.

Accrington (4-4-2): Lumley, Hunt, Aldred, Atkinson, Buxton (Winnard HT), Mingoia (Windass 65), Joyce, Procter, Naismith, Carver (McCartan 80), Gray.

Unused subs: Simpson, Bowerman, Hazeldine, Hatfield.

Booked: Naismith.

Sent off: Gray.

Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey).

Attendance: 4,111 (68 visitors).