OXFORD United were unable to make the most of clear chances late on as they drew with Milton Keynes Dons.

Rob Hall’s classy finish against his former club came in a superb opening 20 minutes for the visitors.

But the Dons steadily came back into the game and drew level on the hour through substitute Callum Brittain.

United were against the ropes for a while, but Jack Payne, Jon Obika and Gino van Kessel missed clear opportunities to take all three points in the closing stages.

Ultimately both sides will probably be frustrated with a point, but had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Neither of United’s deadline day signings, Alex Mowatt and John Mousinho, made the 18-man squad as boss Pep Clotet made just three changes from the midweek Checkatrade Trophy win at Stevenage.

Skipper Curtis Nelson’s knee injury kept him out, but Wes Thomas returned on the bench, alongside new father Van Kessel.

United were given a huge welcome by the massed travelling ranks who had made the short journey to Buckinghamshire – and they saw Clotet’s side make a flying start to open the scoring in the eighth minute.

Jack Payne was given space and he scythed through the middle, exchanging passes with Hall twice, before the winger curled a terrific finish into the far corner from 20 yards.

Hall had been booed by the home fans on his first return to the club since leaving 18 months ago – and he celebrated with a knee slide aimed in their direction.

United made all the early running, as Payne and Joe Rothwell found space easily.

The former was involved in flowing moves which ended with shooting chances for Jon Obika.

The striker scuffed his first effort from a narrow angle, but caught hold of the next chance with a right-footed effort which goalkeeper Lee Nicholls gathered at the second attempt.

Obika’s pace frightened the life out of the Dons back four and he sprung the offside trap midway through the half.

While his attempted cut-back was blocked, the ball fell for Hall, whose close-range effort was smothered by Nicholls.

It took the Dons 25 minutes to worry United’s experienced back four, when Mike Williamson made a vital block to thwart a clear chance for Ryan Seager.

But the hosts came more into the game after United were forced into a defensive change.

Tiendalli appeared to injure a thigh muscle sliding in to block a cross, forcing a reshuffle which saw Christian Ribeiro, captain for the day, switch to right back as Aaron Martin came off the bench.

The Dons went on to enjoy a good spell and Aaron Tshibola steered Peter Pawlett’s cross wide on the stretch at the back post.

It was then the home side’s turn to pick up an injury at the back, as Ethan Ebanks-Landell was forced off.

His replacement, Brittain, quickly forced Simon Eastwood into his only save of the half with a low shot which United scrambled to clear.

United had a penalty shout for handball turned down early in the second half, when Obika’s header at a corner was blocked.

But Dons’ confidence was growing and on the hour they drew level.

Brittain cut in from the right past Henry and managed to thread a low left-footed shot into the far corner of the net.

It woke up the home fans, who turned up the volume as their side cranked up the pressure.

United had to weather a lengthy spell where a succession of crosses were scrambled clear, but Eastwood did not have a save to make.

It all got too much for Dons boss Robbie Neilson, who was sent to the stands for kicking a water bottle over in protest at a decision.

The visitors invited the pressure by failing to hold on to the ball, until the latter stages, when they had chances to win the game.

Payne fired over ten yards out from Ribeiro’s cut-back, while substitute Van Kessel’s break clear was undone by a poor touch.

The game became stretched in the latter stages, but it played more into United’s hands.

Obika fired over, wasting a two-on-one opportunity with Van Kessel, who a minute later went clear and poked a shot past the goalkeeper.

The ball was heading wide, but before the forward could reach the ball, a defender ran across to clear.

Despite five minutes added on for stoppages, neither side could plunder a late winner and had to settle for a point.

MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Nicholls, Williams, Ebanks-Landell (Brittain 35), Wootton, Golbourne, Gilbey, Tshibola, Ariyibi, Upson, Pawlett (Nesbitt 67), Seager (Muirhead 60).

Unused subs: Sietsma, Lewington, Cisse, Nombe.

Booked: Upson.

Oxford Utd (4-4-1-1): Eastwood, Tiendalli (Martin 27), Ribeiro, Williamson, Ricardinho, Henry (Ruffels 80), Ledson, Rothwell, Hall (Van Kessel 72), Payne, Obika.

Unused subs: Shearer, Carroll, Xemi, Thomas.

Booked: Henry, Ricardinho.

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Bedfordshire).

Attendance: 10,746 (2,924 visitors).