OXFORD United were twice pegged back as their clash with promotion rivals Plymouth Argyle ended all square in Devon.

An own goal from Peter Hartley put the visitors ahead, but Argyle threatened from set pieces all afternoon and Curtis Nelson quickly headed home an equaliser from a corner.

Kemar Roofe restored the lead with a superb finish ten minutes before the break and United had chances to kill the game in the second half.

But substitute Craig Tanner struck from another corner to earn a point, as Danny Hylton's late effort hit the crossbar.

The result kept the U's ahead of Argyle on goal difference, but with Accrington Stanley also drawing the pair stayed eight points clear of the chasing pack.

United's team sheet showed four changes, two of which were enforced.

A side strain ruled out Benji Buchel, promoting Sam Slocombe into the side, while youngster Jack Stevens came into the squad.

Joe Skarz, who came off with a groin injury in midweek, was only fit for the bench so Jordan Evans made his first career league start.

There were also changes out wide, with Roofe and Chris Maguire replacing Alex MacDonald and Callum O'Dowda.

Only goal difference separated the sides before kick-off - but neither side looked interested in keeping the the game cagey.

The early incidents all revolved around Hartley at set pieces.

The Argyle centre back had two shots when a corner fell his way, the second of which was deflected behind by Danny Hylton.

From the resulting set piece, Hartley got free and powered a header over.

Within two minutes Argyle's No 6 got the decisive touch on another corner, but this time it was at the other end.

Maguire whipped in an excellent delivery which was aimed at Chey Dunkley, but instead hit Hartley at the back post and flew into the net.

It was a gift for United, but the lead lasted only four minutes.

A Jake Jervis corner picked out an unmarked Nelson, who made no mistake from close range.

Both sides had set out to attack from the beginning and the early goals made the game even more open.

Big holes appeared in the middle of the park with alarming regularity as the teams took it in turns to break forward.

Argyle enjoyed a good spell and United's defence were exposed midway through the half.

Reuben Reid got forward and slipped in Gregg Wylde, who held off Dunkley to go through on goal.

Slocombe did well to block the initial shot and was on hand to block Wylde on the follow-up before Evans cleared.

Further goals looked a certainty, but it was unclear which side would be punished first.

That came in the 35th minute, when Kelvin Mellor charged forward before seeing his pass cut out by Johnny Mullins.

The ball fell to Maguire, who quickly picked out Jordan Bowery.

The tall striker cut in from the left flank and squared for Roofe, who took a touch before hammering a shot past Argyle goalkeeper Luke McCormick from 20 yards.

United went on to gain control for the first time.

Bowery, whose link-up play with Roofe and Hylton caused problems, fired over at a corner.

In stoppage time more good work from Roofe saw him cut back and although Hylton missed his kick, it set up Jonjoe Kenny to shoot wide from 15 yards.

Injury problems meant Argyle could only name six substitutes and their headache increased when Hartley went down in stoppage time.

It prompted a reshuffle which saw midfielder Ben Purrington drop in as a makeshift centre half, with Tanner coming on.

There was also a change of official.

A calf injury saw James Adcock come off and replacement Brett Huxtable's first decision was to wave away appeals for a United penalty when Liam Sercombe went over.

Argyle responded and Reid should have made it 2-2 when he rose unmarked to head on to the crossbar.

When the rebound fell his way, Kenny cleared the striker's shot off the line.

The corner came to Tanner, who could only divert the ball wide from two yards.

It was a scare for United and the visitors went on to control the next 20 minutes.

They looked a real threat on the break, but frustratingly McCormick went largely untested.

The former U's goalkeeper did well to race out and deal with one Bowery attack, while he also saved a header from Maguire.

Their best opening came when Hylton went clear 17 minutes from time, but the forward dithered and Nelson got back to tackle.

It looked a waste at the time and within a minute it looked even worse.

Argyle, who had looked uninspired, got forward and won a corner, from which the diminutive Tanner somehow headed home.

The game was suddenly much more even, although the next chance fell for United ten minutes from time.

Kenny's cross was chested down by Hylton on the penalty spot, but at full stretch his shot struck the crossbar and bounced over.

Both sides pushed late on without success as the spoils were shared.

Plymouth: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley (Tanner HT), Sawyer, Simpson, Purrington, Jervis, Carey, Wylde, Reid (Nardiello 90).

Unused subs: Bittner, Rooney, Harvey, Bentley.

Oxford Utd: Slocombe, Kenny, Dunkley, Mullins, Evans, Roofe (O'Dowda 70), Sercombe, Ruffels, Maguire (Waring 81), Hylton, Bowery.

Unused subs: Stevens, Skarz, Ashby, Lundstram, MacDonald.

Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire).

Attendance: 10,019 (1,179 visitors).