JOSH Ruffels salvaged a deserved point with the penultimate kick of the game as Oxford United held in-form Doncaster Rovers.

Alfie May had appeared to nick the victory when he smashed in from close range in the 90th minute.

But United, who had looked the side more likely to go on and win the game after Gavin Whyte’s equaliser in the 64th minute, hauled themselves level in the 97th minute.

Just seconds remained when Luke Garbutt launched a free-kick into the penalty area which found Ruffels, who curled a beautiful shot in off the far post with his right foot.

United would have felt aggrieved if they had taken nothing from a game where they fell behind to a a disputed penalty decision on Rob Dickie, converted by Ben Whiteman.

But just as they did at Peterborough United a fortnight ago, they came from behind twice to continue an excellent run which has seen them lose just once in 16 games.

Dickie and Ruffels shook off minor knocks, so United named the same starting XI for the sixth game running.

But on the bench Armani Little replaced Ricky Holmes, who was again troubled by a back problem.

After an incredibly scrappy start, United emerged to look the more threatening of the two sides.

James Henry had an early effort from range saved, before the visitors came mighty close to the opening goal in the 13th minute.

A decent move ended with Whyte’s low shot well palmed round the post by Ian Lawlor. The goalkeeper was beaten in the air from the resulting corner when Dickie’s header looped up, but John Mousinho’s nodded effort was hacked off the line by John Marquis.

Doncaster survived, but the home fans were becoming increasingly disgruntled by the way their side were being pushed backwards.

But Rovers got a big shot in the arm on 20 minutes, after forcing their first corner. When the delivery came in Dickie and Andy Butler went down.

Neither appeared blameless, but to the visitors’ dismay, referee Alan Young pointed to the spot, from where Whiteman’s powerful penalty beat Simon Eastwood, who had correctly guessed the direction.

Marcus Browne hit the outside of the near post from an acute angle within a minute, but Rovers went on to have a good spell.

Marquis came closest to doubling the lead, but the striker could not keep his header down from six yards.

United fought to stay in the game, before threatening again late in the half as Henry, Marcus Browne and Brannagan all fired efforts from outside the box off target.

Rovers were well-organised and savvy, though. Grant McCann’s side subtly ran down the clock at every opportunity and were effective at breaking up United’s rhythm.

They almost nicked a second goal on the break just before the break, but Curtis Nelson made an excellent intervention to deflect Ali Crawford’s shot over the crossbar.

The half-time whistle brought renewed complaints about the goal from United. Jamie Hanson was booked for dissent, while boss Karl Robinson had to come on to the pitch to prevent Nelson from talking his way into the referee’s notebook.

The streetwise Rovers continued to keep their opponents at arm’s length when the second half restarted.

United were guilty of giving too many fouls around their box, while at the other end decision-making around the penalty area continued to hamper them.

It was beginning to look like a frustrating afternoon, but on 64 minutes they equalised.

Rovers were caught napping by a quickly-taken free-kick near the halfway line by Hanson to Henry. His incisive pass found Whyte, whose marker slipped, allowing the winger to drive a low shot across Lawlor and into the net.

United then forged two great chances to take the lead in quick succession.

Hanson stood up a cross to the back post, where Browne’s chest control and volley was blocked by Lawlor for a corner.

The next chance was even clearer, with Ruffels’s low cross finding Nelson eight yards out, but his goal-bound effort hit a defender and looped just wide.

Rovers were hanging on and looked like they would be happy to settle for a point heading into the closing stages.

But they appeared to nick a win in the final minute of normal time, as Marquis’s cross fell for May to slam in.

There were still six minutes of stoppage-time to play, but they had elapsed when United were awarded a free-kick near halfway.

Garbutt launched it into the box, where Ruffels conjured some late drama.

Doncaster Rov (4-3-3): Lawlor, Cummings (Blair 74), Anderson, Butler, Andrew, Whiteman, Crawford (Rowe 73), Kane, Wilks, Marquis, Coppinger (May 85).

Unused subs: Marosi, Taylor, Amos, Blaney.

Booked: Crawford, Butler.

Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Eastwood, Hanson, Nelson, Dickie, Ruffels, Mousinho, Henry, Brannagan, Whyte, Mackie (Garbutt 88), Browne.

Unused subs: Mitchell, Long, McMahon, Raglan, Little, Smith.

Booked: Dickie, Mousinho, Hanson, Ruffels.

Referee: Alan Young (Cambridgeshire).

Attendance: 7,425 (470 visitors).