ROMAIN Vincelot’s header in the final seconds denied Oxford United what would have been a superb victory against Bradford City.

Joe Rothwell looked like being the match-winner when he coolly finished with his left foot four minutes from time.

It completed a fully merited turnaround for United, who had trailed for almost half the game before Wes Thomas bundled in an equaliser on the rebound.

Omari Patrick’s classy curled shot had opened the scoring against the run of play, but the streetwise Bantams came up with a last-gasp equaliser to claim a share of the spoils.

While it was a terrific game where United’s young core again excited, the late bodyblow meant the mood was flat come full-time.

U’s boss Pep Clotet made two changes to the starting XI from Saturday, with Mike Williamson and Thomas replacing Canice Carroll and Jon Obika.

Both sides had enjoyed good wins on Saturday and produced an attractive contest, keeping the ball on the floor and testing each other’s defences.

The game was billed as the hosts’ chance to measure themselves against a promotion contender, but Clotet’s side gained the upper hand early on.

Rob Hall forced Colin Doyle into a save after Thomas’s clever lay-off and the goalkeeper was quickly called upon again, punching uncomfortably under his crossbar after James Henry had headed the ball into the danger zone.

United’s momentum was growing and on 19 minutes it looked like they had a penalty.

Jake Reeves carelessly passed straight to Thomas, who delayed long enough to snuff out a shooting chance, but he picked out Hall, who fell as he darted past a challenge in the box.

It looked a certain spot-kick, but referee Christopher Sarginson waved away United’s protests.

Undeterred, the home side kept pushing.

Hall saw a 25-yard effort skid just wide on the wet turf, while Bradford were forced into another error on 27 minutes.

Payne charged down Nat Knight-Percival and ran into the penalty area, but could not pick out a teammate as Thomas yelled for a pass.

While the Bantams were yet to register a shot of any description, they made the most of a brief spell of pressure.

After Charlie Wyke had shot over from Tony McMahon’s cross, Patrick opened the scoring with the next attack.

The young forward picked up the ball and from near the left corner of the box bent a shot which curled over Simon Eastwood and nestled just inside the far post.

United’s support responded by turning up the volume, but their side was a little hurried in their search for an equaliser before the break.

They dominated possession early in the second half, but only had a Payne shot from outside the box saved by Doyle to show for it.

City soaked up the pressure and when they came forward for a rare attack just before the hour mark almost made it count.

A terrific slide tackle from Ryan Ledson thwarted Reeves six yards out, but the loose ball fell to Patrick, whose shot from ten yards rattled the crossbar.

It would have been a crushing blow for United, who made the most of the let-off.

Fresh legs helped them keep probing for an equaliser, which finally arrived 16 minutes from time.

Substitute Gino van Kessel’s swerving shot from range squirmed away from Doyle and was pounced on by Thomas, who slammed in from six yards.

It got even better for United 12 minutes later, when Van Kessel slid a pass for Rothwell to finish expertly.

But in the dying seconds the visitors struck again, to the dismay of the home fans.

Oxford Utd (4-4-1-1): Eastwood, Mousinho, Nelson, Williamson, Ricardinho, Hall, Ledson, Rothwell (Ruffels 88), Henry (Van Kessel 61), Payne (Mowatt 67), Thomas.

Unused subs: Shearer, Martin, Carroll, Xemi.

Booked: Rothwell.

Bradford C (4-3-3): Doyle, McMahon, Knight-Percival, Kilgallon (Taylor 90), Field, Vincelot, Reeves, Law, Gilliead, Wyke (Poleon 78), Patrick (McCartan 78).

Unused subs: Raeder, Thompson, Hendrie, Jones.

Booked: None.

Referee: Christopher Sarginson (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 6,558 (403 visitors).