OXFORD United’s winning league run at home was halted as Michael Kightly landed a knockout blow for Southend United on Boxing Day.

It decided a poor-quality game, played out in front of the biggest Sky Bet League One attendance of the season at the Kassam Stadium.

The U’s were chasing a sixth-successive home league win for the first time since 1985, but never caught light going forward.

Jamie Mackie had a goal ruled out for offside, but otherwise visiting goalkeeper Nathan Bishop, making only his second league start, was untroubled.

At the other end his counterpart Simon Eastwood was hardly overworked, but he could do nothing about Kightly’s close-range header 11 minutes from time.

United again named an unchanged side, but found the game tough going in a stodgy opening 25 minutes.

Southend had clearly taken note of the U’s home record – five straight league wins – and set out to frustrate.

When the hosts had possession, all of the Shrimpers bar Theo Robinson were withdrawn behind the ball.

On a greasy surface, United struggled to move the ball quickly enough to open their opponents up.

Aside from a Marcus Browne cross which fizzed across the face of Bishop’s goal, there was nothing of note in the early stages.

The big home crowd had something to shout about on 24 minutes, when Jamie Mackie had the ball in the net to convert Gavin Whyte’s cross. But the celebrations were cut short by an offside flag.

Gradually the game stirred into life and ten minutes before the break Southend should have taken the lead.

A quick throw caught the U’s cold at the back and when Simon Cox looped a cross it looked a formality for strike partner Theo Robinson, but from inside the six-yard box his effort glanced wide.

It was quickly United’s turn to rue a gilt-edged miss, when Curtis Nelson steered a volley wide from Cameron Brannagan’s free-kick to the back post.

The wait for a shot on target ended two minutes before the break. Browne allowed Josh Ruffels’s throw across his body and his snap-shot from just inside the box was spilled by Bishop, who gathered just before Mackie could tap in.

United must have wished they had Jordan Graham in reserve, but the winger could only be introduced to the crowd after agreeing a loan which starts next week.

The break did little to help the contest, which slipped back into the doldrums in the second half.

It desperately needed a goal to liven up the proceedings, as chances continued to come at a premium – Simon Eastwood’s first save came in the 67th minute, dealing with Sam Mantom’s free-kick.

Boss Karl Robinson had bemoaned the lack of attacking options in reserve during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Doncaster, but here a shattered-looking Browne looked in dire need of replacing.

He made way for Armani Little 19 minutes from time – and it almost proved an inspired change.

The substitute’s first touch was a header over the top which was a perfect through ball for Henry, whose shot from the edge of the box fizzed inches wide.

But Little inadvertently played a role in the opening goal, 11 minutes from time.

His pass near the halfway line went astray and Southend launched a counter-attack which saw Robinson’s cross headed in from close range by Kightly.

United had come from behind in stoppage-time at Doncaster on Saturday and they pushed hard for a repeat.

But aside from a penalty shout on Mackie, they did not worry Southend, who held firm.

Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Eastwood, Hanson, Nelson, Dickie, Ruffels, Mousinho (Smith 83), Henry, Brannagan, Whyte, Mackie, Browne (Little 71).

Unused subs: Mitchell, Garbutt, Raglan, Long, McMahon.

Booked: Dickie, Mackie.

Southend Utd (4-4-2): Bishop, Bwomono, Turner, Moore, Hendrie, Mantom, Yearwood (Hyam 78), Dieng, Kightly (White 90), Cox (Clifford 90), Robinson.

Unused subs: Smith, McLaughlin, McCoulsky, Hutchinson.

Booked: Bwomono, Hyam, Cox.

Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex).

Attendance: 8,978 (604 visitors).