JOSH Ruffels sparked bedlam with a high-class, last-gasp winner which took Oxford United to within sight of Sky Bet League One survival.

Just as in their previous home game, the U's bagged the decisive goal in the 94th minute - but unlike the Bradford clash there was no doubt over the left back's stunning strike.

It settled a contest which looked to be heading for a draw, with Jerome Sinclair’s third goal of his loan spell from Watford cancelling out Adam El-Abd’s opener in an eventful first half which saw Joe Jacobson then miss a penalty.

United controlled much of the second half, but the visitors came close to a second goal when Adebayo Akinfenwa’s header hit the crossbar.

Ruffels though had the final word with an astonishing effort which takes United seven points clear of the bottom four after three successive wins.

Head coach Karl Robinson, who was among those yet to be paid his wages for March, made two changes to the side which had started the win at Coventry City a week earlier.

Sinclair and top scorer James Henry came into the XI, as Jamie Mackie and Jordan Graham dropped to the bench.

There was little goalmouth action in the tight opening exchanges, although United had a habit of giving away set pieces around their box.

One from Jason McCarthy lured out Eastwood, who realised too late it was sailing out of reach, before breathing a sigh of relief when the ball went out of play.

But when the goalkeeper erred again on 21 minutes, it proved costly. After Rob Dickie fouled Alex Samuel wide on Wycombe’s right, Jacobson’s delivery was missed by Eastwood and when the ball ricocheted into the six-yard box El-Abd flicked the ball in.

The visitors were having joy with aerial balls to powerful striker Adebayo Akinfenwa, whose flick-ons were causing trouble.

Oxford Mail:

  • Adebayo Akinfenwa wins the ball in the air against Oxford United's Luke Garbutt

United by contrast were looking laboured in possession, but drew level on the half-hour mark when Marcus Browne showed purpose out wide.

He beat Jacobson and whipped in a wicked low cross which was turned in from close range by Sinclair.

A breathless passage of play continued when, eight minutes before the break, Wycombe were awarded a penalty.

Also read: Reaction - That was the best moment of my career, says match-winner Ruffels

Samuel had proved a nuisance chasing through balls and he cleverly rolled Ruffels, who brought him down. Jacobson stepped up, but his normally reliable left foot misfired from 12 yards as he sent the spot kick wide of Eastwood’s left-hand post.

Duly reprieved, United might have led before the break.

Sinclair showed terrific awareness in his own half to swivel and volley a through ball for Kashi. Bizarrely, Wycombe goalkeeper Yves Ma-Kalambay was miles out of his goal, but as the U’s midfielder sized up a 40-yard lob he was robbed by the backtracking Anthony Stewart.

The Chairboys stopper was called into action seconds into the second half when Sam Long intercepted and tried his luck from range.

Wycombe went on to enjoy a good spell, although Dickie had a header cleared off the line by Dominic Gape at a corner.

Oxford Mail:

  • Marcus Browne is brought down by Joe Jacobson

Seconds later the visitors were at the other end, where Akinfenwa climbed above Long but saw his looping header hit the crossbar and bounce to safety.

At that stage Wycombe looked more dangerous, but they began to start slowing the game down with an eye on preserving the point.

That invited United, who brought on Jamie Mackie and Jordan Graham, to take the initiative and the looked like the only team trying to win the game in the latter stages.

They piled on the pressure with a flurry of set pieces and crosses, without forcing a clear chance.

It looked like they would be claiming a point, before Ruffels's moment of magic.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): Eastwood, Long, Nelson, Dickie, Ruffels, Kashi, Brannagan, Browne (Graham 65), Henry (Mackie 72), Garbutt (Sykes 88), Sinclair.

Unused subs: Stevens, Mousinho, Hanson, Lopes.

Booked: Browne, Ruffels.

Wycombe W (4-3-3): Ma-Kalambay, McCarthy, El-Abd, Stewart, Jacobson (Harriman 59), Bean (Bloomfield 83), Thompson (Cowan-Hall 79), Gape, Samuel, Akinfenwa, Freeman.

Unused subs: Allsop, Jombati, Kashket, Owens.

Booked: Jacobson.

Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).

Attendance: 9,250 (1,716 visitors).